Barnard-Brak, L., & Kudesey, C. (2022). Registering for accommodations among college students with psychological disorders . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 35 (3), 203–211. https://www.ahead.org/professional-resources/publications/jped
Accommodations were not specified; instead, the general use of academic accommodations by postsecondary students with autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and mental health conditions was investigated.
An extant dataset was analyzed, encompassing 8,860 postsecondary students with mental health-related disabilities—termed "psychological disorders" in the study—from a national (U.S.) dataset composed of survey responses from 89,181 students attending four-year colleges and universities during the 2019–2020 academic year. The source of these data was the Healthy Minds Study (HMS; Healthy Minds Network, 2020), reported to seek to examine the perspectives of public health, education, medicine, psychology, and information sciences, and to represent the nature and status of mental health concerns of postsecondary students. Additional details for students were reported, with an expanded number of gender categories, along with race and ethnicity, and across five years of enrollment. The study participants' psychological disorders included anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, personality disorders, stressor-related disabilities, substance abuse, and other less-common psychological conditions (totaling 2% of the sample). Students with learning disabilities were specifically not included in the sample.
The survey from the Healthy Minds Study (HMS) addressed a broader set of questions including incidence of various mental health matters; the participant sample's incidence of seeking accommodations through disability services offices was analyzed using logistic regression, employing covariates of individual students' characteristics, self-reported grade point averages (GPAs), and use of mental health-related medications and other therapies.
Analysis of the secondary dataset on several demographic categories such as gender, ethnicity, and race, along with years of enrollment, yielded no apparent corresponding patterns of registration with postsecondary institutions' disability services offices or access to academic accommodations. Larger proportions of students with specific types of mental health conditions were found to have registered with disability services offices: Anxiety Disorders, 60%; Depressive Disorders, 52%; Neurodevelopmental Disorders (autism), 23%. The remaining conditions had registration rates below 20%. Logistic regression findings, in terms of odds ratios, were reported for covariates, indicating significant differences in seeking accommodations. Postsecondary students with mental health conditions who already received medications and therapy were found to have a higher likelihood of subsequently accessing accommodations. Students with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities had a higher likelihood of seeking accommodations in comparison with students without these disabilities. Students with ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders, and "other" psychological disorders had a decreased likelihood of accessing disability services including accommodations. The researchers suggested that a potential explanation of these differences in odds ratios could have been different degrees of perceived stigma, such that postsecondary students with autism have lowered perceptions of stigma for seeking accommodations and, for example, students with ADHD have higher perceived stigma for doing so. Higher GPA was negatively associated with seeking accommodations support. The researchers suggested that students with higher degrees of impairment might have experienced lower course grades, then sought accommodations; students with lower degrees of impairment could have had grades that were satisfactory to themselves and did not seek accommodations.