The Risk Factors of Psychological Responses for Chinese University Students on COVID-19 Outbreak: A Cross-Sectional Online Survey Study

J Med Internet Res. 2021 Jun 20. doi: 10.2196/29312. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) is a highly contagious and highly pathogenic disease caused by a novel coronavirus(SARS-CoV-2)and has become a pandemic. As a vulnerable population, university students are at high-risk during the epidemic because they have high mobility and often overlook the severity of the disease due to incomplete information about the epidemic. The epidemic has brought not only the risk of death from infection but also unbearable psychological pressure. In this respect, university students are prone to psychological problems induced by the epidemic compared to the general population, because the university life is the first time out of the structure of family for most students and their mental development is still immature. The internal and external expectations and academic stress lead to excessive pressure, and unhealthy lifestyle also deteriorate their mental health. The outbreak of COVID-19 was a significant social event, and it could potentially have a great impact on the life and the mental health of the university students. Therefore, it is of importance to investigate university students’ mental health status during the outbreak of COVID-19.

OBJECTIVE: The principal objective of this project was to investigate the influencing factors of psychological responses for Chinese university students on COVID-19 outbreak.

METHODS: This study used survey data conducted in China between 21 and 24 February 2020, and the dataset contains demographic information and psychological measures including the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS), Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS), and the compulsive behaviors part of the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (YBOCS). A total of 2284 valid questionnaires were returned, and 2270 of them are valid and used for analysis. Mann-Whitney-U Test for two independent samples and binary logistic regression models were used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: Our study surveyed 563 medical students and 1707 non-medical students. Of these, 251 out of 2270 students (11.06%) had mental health issues. The results showed that contact history of similar infectious disease (OR=3.363, P=.015), PMH (OR=3.282, P<.001), and compulsive behaviors (OR =3.525, P<.001) contributed to the risk of mental health. Older students (OR=0.928, P=.021), regular daily life during the epidemic outbreak (OR=0.410, P<.001), exercise during the epidemic outbreak (OR=0.456, P<.001), and concern on COVID-19 (OR=0.638, P=.002) were protective factors for mental health issues.

CONCLUSIONS: According to the study, the mental health issues have seriously affected university students, and our results are benefit for identifying the risky group of universities students on the possible mental health so that universities and families could prevent or intervene the potential mental health development at the early stage of the disease development.

PMID:34156961 | DOI:10.2196/29312