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Sense of coherence in Chinese and German students

Claude-Hélène Mayer
Lynette Louw
Hartmut von der Ohe


Background: Mental health and salutogenesis are important topics at universities in China and Germany where heightening stress levels in students can be observed.
Aim: The aim of this article is to determine the profile of the salutogenic concept, sense of coherence (SOC), in Chinese and German students to provide new insights into SOC and mental health in Chinese and German students in higher education institutions (HEIs).
Setting: The study was carried out at universities in China and Germany.
Method: A non-experimental, cross-sectional, survey-based research design and convenience sampling was utilised to obtain the sample (n = 356). The sample was derived at a selected Chinese (n = 255) and a selected German university (n = 101). Data were gathered using the 7-point Likert SOC dimension scales based on the Life-Orientation Questionnaire (LOQ) research instrument. The internal consistency levels of the SOC sub-scales  were of acceptable levels. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were calculated to determine the reliability of the LOQ research instrument. General linear modelling techniques.
Results: The results showed the Chinese students scored significantly lower in all three SOC scales than the German students, with the largest  practical significant difference in the sub-score of meaningfulness. In general, female Chinese and German students scored higher than their male counterparts. No significant differences could be found between German female and male, and Chinese female and male students.
Conclusion: Conclusions and recommendations for future research and HEI practice are provided.

Keywords: health; salutogenesis; sense of coherence; Chinese students; German students.