The Association between Subjective Well-Being and Risky Behaviours in University Students: The Mediating Role of Social Factors


  • Regina Ferreira Alves University of Minho, Institute of Education, CIEC Research Centre Child Studies, Braga, Portugal


health behaviour, subjective well-being, social factors, health education, structural equations model


This study examined the mediating role of social factors (friends’ substance use, living with family and having a romantic partner) in the relationship between subjective well-being and health-risk behaviours. This is a cross-sectional study of 840 Portuguese university students that used a probabilistic sampling technique. The data were gathered using a paper-and-pencil questionnaire which included three main areas: subjective well-being, health behaviours and social factors. Structural equations were used for modelling and analysis in order to test the mediating effect of the social factors in the correlation between subjective well-being and risky behaviours. Structural equation modelling showed that behaviours that put one’s health at risk were directly and positively related to having friends who use psychoactive substances and negatively with the following variables: having a romantic partner and living with family. The mediation analysis showed that social factors significantly mediated the correlation between subjective well-being and health-related risk behaviours. This study highlights the importance of taking into account the importance of social networks when designing educational interventions to improve student health in higher education settings.