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Certain Factors Increase Pandemic's Psychological Impact on College Students

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 27, 2021 -- Certain risk factors are associated with college students self-reporting a psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in PLOS ONE.

Matthew H.E.M. Browning, Ph.D., from Clemson University in South Carolina, and colleagues surveyed 2,534 students from seven public U.S. universities (61 percent women; 79 percent non-Hispanic White) when most coronavirus-related sheltering-in-place orders were in effect (mid-March to early May 2020) to understand the psychological impact of the pandemic.

The researchers found 45 percent of students experienced a high risk for psychological impact. Respondents who were women, were non-Hispanic Asian, were in fair/poor health, were of below-average relative family income, or knew someone infected with COVID-19 experienced higher levels of psychological impact. A lower likelihood of psychological impact was seen among students who were non-Hispanic White, were above-average social class, spent at least two hours outside, or spent less than eight hours on electronic screens.

"Inadequate efforts to recognize and address college students' mental health challenges, especially during a pandemic, could have long-term consequences on their health and education," the authors write.

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