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Authors: Tsiouris, Angeliki
Werner, Antonia M.
Tibubos, Ana N.
Mülder, Lina M.
Reichel, Jennifer L.
Heller, Sebastian
Schäfer, Markus
Schwab, Lisa
Rigotti, Thomas
Stark, Birgit
Dietz, Pavel
Beutel, Manfred E.
Title: Mental health state and its determinants in German university students across the COVID-19 pandemic : findings from three repeated cross-sectional surveys between 2019 and 2021
Online publication date: 14-Feb-2024
Year of first publication: 2023
Language: english
Abstract: Background: Students were at an increased risk for elevated mental symptoms during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels. As universities remained closed much longer than anticipated, the mental burden was expected to persist through the second year of the pandemic. The current study aimed to investigate the prevalence of mental distress from 2019 through 2021 and identify risk factors for elevated mental burden, focusing on gender. Methods: We analyzed three cross-sectional online surveys among students at the University of Mainz, conducted in 2019 (n = 4,351), 2020 (n = 3,066), and 2021 (n = 1,438). Changes in the prevalence of depressive symptoms, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and loneliness were calculated using Pearson's chi-square tests and analyses of variance. Multiple linear regressions yielded associated risk factors. Results: The proportion of students with clinically relevant depressive symptoms was significantly higher during the pandemic (38.9% in 2020, and 40.7% in 2021), compared to pre-pandemic (29.0% in 2019). Similarly, more students reported suicidal ideation and generalized anxiety during the pandemic with a peak in the second pandemic year (2021). The level of loneliness was significantly higher in 2020, compared to 2019, and remained at a high level in 2021 (p < 0.001, η2p = 0.142). Female and diverse/open gender, being single, living alone, and being a first-year student were identified as risk factors associated with mental burden during the pandemic. Discussion: Mental burdens remained elevated among students through the second year of the pandemic and were associated with socio-demographic risk factors and pandemic-related concerns. Future research should monitor recovery and evaluate the need for psychosocial support.
DDC: 610 Medizin
610 Medical sciences
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 04 Medizin
Place: Mainz
Version: Published version
Publication type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz
Document type specification: Scientific article
License: CC BY
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Journal: Frontiers in Public Health
Pages or article number: 1163541
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Publisher place: Lausanne
Issue date: 2023
ISSN: 2296-2565
Publisher DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1163541
Appears in collections:DFG-491381577-G

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