Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2021 Mar 27:1-8. doi: 10.1080/13651501.2021.1900872. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Quarantine, although essential during contagious outbreaks, has been correlated with poor psychological outcomes in the general population. Such outcomes include low mood, suicide, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Studies have mostly looked at the mental health of general citizens, healthcare workers, or infected survivors, with limited research targeting university students. This study aimed to understand the psychological distress experienced by self-quarantined undergraduate university students in Lebanon during the COVID-19 outbreak.
METHODS: Undergraduate students enrolled at the American University of Beirut were invited to participate in a 47-item online questionnaire. 73 participants completed the questionnaire. Demographic data, data about COVID-19 exposure, stressors during quarantine, understanding the rationale, compliance, and difficulties associated with quarantine, and levels of psychological distress were analysed.
RESULTS: 75.3% of the participants were considered as having a high risk of developing acute stress. Undergoing quarantine for more than 14 days, having a chronic medical illness, inadequate access to supplies, and fear of infection were all significantly associated with an increased risk of acute stress.
CONCLUSION: Despite being a necessary preventive measure during infectious disease outbreaks, quarantine can be associated with negative psychological effects, particularly in undergraduate students. Providing preventive and effective interventions is of utmost necessity.KEY POINTSDuring COVID-19, three-quarter of students had high risk for acute stress.Females had higher odds of high-risk acute stress compared to males.Having a chronic medical condition was associated with high risk acute stress.Long quarantine and lack of supplies were associated with high risk acute stress.Providing interventions to protect the mental health of students is necessary.