Publication type: Conference other
Type of review: Peer review (abstract)
Title: Health of Swiss university students during the COVID-19 pandemic : impact and management
Authors: Dratva, Julia
Volken, Thomas
Zysset, Annina
et. al: No
Conference details: Swiss Public Health Conference, Bern, 25.-26. August 2021
Issue Date: 24-Aug-2021
Language: English
Subjects: Covid-19; Pandemic; Student; Depression; Anxiety; Risk behavior; Prevention; Social impact
Subject (DDC): 305: Groups (age, origine, gender, income)
613: Personal health
Abstract: The Corona pandemic is impacting all age groups and areas of society, irrespective of the risk of exposure or disease severity. University students were confronted with abrupt changes by the COVID-19 lock-down both in their personal and academic lives. The “Health in Students during the Corona pandemic” study (HES-C) investigated the impact on mental health and health behavior, COVID-19 related behaviors, concerns and views, from the April 3rd 2020 (T0) to January 25th 2021 (T5), covering two university semesters with overall 6 surveys. Early in the lock-down all students of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (N = 12,431) were invited to a voluntary longitudinal health survey. The single surveys showed participation rates from T0 20% to T5 13%. Longitudinal data are available for N~500 in the spring semester. The workshop will present results on mental health outcomes, anxiety and depression, and health behaviors with a focus on compliance with COVID-19 measures, health behaviors substance abuse, and address both individual as well as societal and COVID specific factors influencing health during the pandemic. The workshop foresees three short inputs of each 10 -12 min. and a discussion at the end of 20 -25 min. • Covid-19 related preventive and risky health behavior (Annina Zysset) The input will focus on adherence to containment measures as mean of preventive health behavior, as well health risk behavior of students during the pandemic. While overall adherence was high, men yielded lower adjusted odds (OR; 95%-CI) of adherence regarding the following measures: social distancing (0.68; 0.53-0.87), non-utilization of public transport (0.74; 0.56-0.97), 5-person limit for social gatherings (0.47; 0.35-0.64) and the stay at home rule (0.64; 0.51-0.82). In addition to gender, factors associated with adherence were information source and perceived susceptibility to the virus. Out of 80% who reported having drunk alcohol during the last 30 day, 31% engaged at least one in binge drinking (>5 beverages) and 18% consumed more than usual. 11% consumed marijuana, of which 27% consumed more during the lock-down than before. Factors associated with risk behavior and changes in behavior will be presented. Public health communication targeting university students should address both preventive and risk behavior during the pandemic. . • Generalized anxiety (Julia Dratva) The input focusses on the anxiety levels, measured with the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale-7 (GAD-7), and the association of anxiety with perceived personal and academic COVID-19 impact, and the trend of anxiety across the semester. At T0 20.2% showed symptoms of moderate- severe anxiety. A latent class analysis (LCA) yielded three classes varying in perceived COVID-19 impact: 1 (low, n = 675), 2 (moderate, n = 1098), and 3 (strong, n = 656), and a significant increase in the adjusted proportion of moderate to severe anxiety by class with a 10 fold increase in class 3 compared to class 1 (45% (95% CI: 28.0–62.0), 15.5% (95% CI: 13.1–17.9), and 5.1% (95% CI: 4.7–5.6). The prevalence of anxiety decreased to 15.6% at T1 (4 weeks later). Concluding, the results imply a generally high COVID related impact on anxiety. Albeit anxiety decreased with time, the diversity of students’ crisis perception and associated anxiety should be addressed in future health promotion and support. • Depression (Thomas Volken) The input addresses the prevalence of depressive symptoms, measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), the changes in depressive symptoms between April (T0) and October 2020 (T3), and associations of protective factors and risk factors with levels of depressive symptoms. The adjusted prevalence of depressive symptoms in female (30.8% (95% CI: 28.6-33.0)) and male students (24.8% (95% CI: 21.7-28.1) was substantially higher than in a matching pre-pandemic national sample of young women (10.9% (95% CI: 8.9-13.2)) and men (8.5% (6.6-11.0)). Depressive symptoms between T0 and T3 did not decline, despite the Federal Council's significantly relaxed containment measures during late spring and early summer. Overall, our results imply an alarmingly high prevalence of depressive symptoms among students during the pandemic. We identified several factors associated with depressive symptom, which may be used to structure and guide future health promotion and support initiatives. Based on these inputs, the discussion will evolve around the following questions: 1. How generalizable to other educational institutions of higher learning are the data? Comparisons with literature will be presented in the inputs. Experiences and views of the participants. 2. How well prepared are universities to manage health crises, respectively, how should they increase preparedness for the future? 3. How can students with higher health risks
Fulltext version: Published version
License (according to publishing contract): Licence according to publishing contract
Departement: Health Professions
Organisational Unit: Institute of Health Sciences (IGW)
Published as part of the ZHAW project: Gesundheit von Studierenden in Zeiten der Corona-Pandemie
Appears in collections:Publikationen Gesundheit

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