January 26, 2023

Study: Procrastination harms mental, physical health

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study of Swedish university students finds that procrastination is associated with a range of subsequent adverse health outcomes.

This analysis included data on 3,525 university students from 8 universities in the greater Stockholm area and Orebro. They were followed-up at 3 time points, and 16 self-reported health outcomes were assessed.

At 9 months, higher levels of procrastination were associated with:

  • worse mental health (depression, anxiety, and stress levels)
  • disabling pain in the upper extremities
  • unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (poor sleep quality and physical inactivity)
  • worse psychosocial health (more loneliness and economic difficulties).

The researchers found no clear associations between procrastination and disabling pain in other body regions (neck and/or upper back, lower back, or lower extremities), other unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis use and breakfast skipping), or general health.

Because procrastination is prevalent among university students, the findings may be important in understanding students’ health, the authors say.

JAMA (healthcare publication) Network logo


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