Problematic Smartphone Use and Mental Health in Chinese Adults: A Population-Based Study (2020)

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jan 29;17(3). pii: E844. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17030844.

Guo N1, Luk TT1, Ho SY2, Lee JJ1, Shen C3, Oliffe J4, Chan SS1, Lam TH2, Wang MP1.


Problematic smartphone use (PSU) has been associated with anxiety and depression, but few explored its mental well-being correlates that could co-occur with or be independent of mental symptoms. We studied the associations of PSU with anxiety, depression, and mental well-being in Hong Kong Chinese adults in a probability-based survey (N = 4054; 55.0% females; mean age ± SD 48.3 ± 18.3 years). PSU was measured using Smartphone Addiction Scale-Short Version. Anxiety and depression symptoms were evaluated using General Anxiety Disorder screener-2 (GAD-2) and Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2). Mental well-being was measured using Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) and Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (SWEMWBS). Multivariable regression analyzed associations adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle-related variables. Associations of PSU with mental well-being were stratified by symptom severity of anxiety (GAD-2 cutoff of 3) and depression (PHQ-2 cutoff of 3). We found that PSU was associated with higher odds of anxiety and depression symptom severity and lower scores of SHS and SWEMWBS. Associations of PSU with lower SHS and SWEMWBS scores remained in respondents who screened negative for anxiety or depression symptoms. To conclude, PSU was associated with anxiety, depression, and impaired mental well-being. Associations of PSU with impaired mental well-being could be independent of anxiety or depression symptoms.

KEYWORDS: anxiety; depression; mental well-being; population-based study; problematic smartphone use; smartphone addiction

PMID: 32013111

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17030844