Increases in symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder among university students during the COVID-19 pandemic

J Am Coll Health. 2022 Jun 3:1-7. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2022.2080507. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: The long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on college students’ mental health remains unknown. The current study explored self-reported Obsessive-Compulsive symptomatology among college student cohorts from pre-, peak-, and later-pandemic time points.

PARTICIPANTS: Undergraduate college students (N = 524) who volunteered for course credit.

METHODS: Self-report responses on the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (DOCS), which includes subscales for contamination, unacceptable thoughts, harm responsibility, and symmetry, were collected from November 29, 2016 through April 27, 2021 and assessed for differences between the pre-, peak-, and later-pandemic cohorts.

RESULTS: Peak-pandemic responders reported higher symptomatology for contamination and unacceptable thoughts compared to pre-pandemic responders (and for pre- vs. later-pandemic for contamination), with no significant effects for symmetry or harm responsibility.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on students remains unknown, a greater shift in college mental health services from prevention to assessing and addressing more immediate challenges may be necessary.

PMID:35658099 | DOI:10.1080/07448481.2022.2080507