Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 among local and overseas Chinese university students

This article was originally published here

Health Soc Care Community. 2021 Apr 6. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13347. Online ahead of print.


This study aimed to establish a new COVID-19 Fear (Higher Education) scale to investigate the relationship between fear and generalised anxiety symptoms among Chinese students in mainland China, Hong Kong, and other countries. 219 Chinese university students studying in universities in mainland China (n = 76, 34.7%), Hong Kong (n = 66, 30.1%), and overseas (i.e., outside of China as international students, n = 77, 35.2%) participated in an online study from March 31, 2020 to April 4. Participants completed a newly developed COVID-19 Fear (Higher Education) scale to measure three domains of fear including fear of infection, fear of instability and fear of insecurity related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also completed the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7) on the severity of anxiety symptoms. About 9.6% of the participants could be classified as exhibiting high anxiety level according to the GAD-7. More students studying overseas (about 15%) were classified into the high GAD group when compared to students studying in both mainland China (6.6%) and Hong Kong (6.1%). MANOVA results showed that students studying in Hong Kong and overseas had more concerns related to preventive measures related to COVID-19 than their mainland counterparts did. We concluded that international students studying away from their home country would have higher risk to develop anxiety problems during a collective trauma such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Education institutions should provide support services including online support groups, social media groups for mutual support to alleviate the fear and anxiety of international students.

PMID:33825220 | DOI:10.1111/hsc.13347