Student Priorities for Well-being Support: A Mixed-Methods Exploration following the Person-Based Approach

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMSc


Background: Student well-being is poor (Thorley, 2017). Universities are unable to meet the rising demand for well-being support (Hughes & Spanner, 2019), highlighting a need for effective new resources. Despite extensive literature on well-being interventions, students’ engagement with support remains unexplored. The development of new interventions requires theory, existing evidence and users’ perspectives (MRC, 2019). The Person-Based Approach to intervention design (Yardley, Morrison et al., 2015) centralises users’ experience to create most acceptable and effective resources.
Aim: To inform the development of interventions improving student well-being. This was achieved by exploring students’ experience of engagement with well-being support, identifying their well-being needs and forming guiding principles for future intervention design.
Methods: A mixed-method study combined an online survey (N = 52) with three focus groups (N = 14). Survey data were analysed descriptively, and qualitative contributions were analysed following the principles of reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2019).
Results: Four key student priorities for well-being resources were identified – Ease of access, Inclusive and preventative approach, Sense of community and a safe space, and Applying skills to real-life contexts. Survey results concurred with these priorities. The findings were translated into actionable guiding principles for intervention design through consultations with stakeholders.
Conclusions: The study contributes to the limited literature on why and how students engage with well-being support at university. Results in form of concrete recommendations will inform the design of future interventions, leading to more acceptable and efficient student well-being resources.
Date of AwardOct 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorBenjamin Ainsworth (Supervisor), Max Western (Supervisor) & Paul Chadwick (Supervisor)


  • Well-being
  • university students
  • intervention development
  • Person-based approach

Cite this