Predictive factors of the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on university students: a study in six Ibero-American countries

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Abstract
Background/Objective: During Covid-19, high prevalences of anxiety and depression were reported among university students, suggesting that they may be at higher risk than the general population of developing psychological disorders in lockdown situations. This study aimed to analyze how sociocultural factors and individual differences contributed to explaining the psychological impact of the pandemic among Ibero-American university students from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, and Uruguay. Method: The study was carried out on 7601 university students (72% women). Data were collected through an online questionnaire that measured anxiety (GAD-2), depression (PHQ-2), somatic symptoms (SSQ-5), post-traumatic growth (PTGI), loneliness (UCLS), personality (NEO-FFI), Resilience (CD-RISC-2), Perceived Competences (PCS) and sociodemographic data. Descriptive statistics and multiple linear regression model were performed. Results: Analysis indicated a high prevalence (46.15%) of distress among university students, regardless of country and significantly higher than in the general population (28.27%). Greater feelings of loneliness and greater neuroticism were significantly associated with anxiety, depression, and somatization. Likewise, male gender and higher levels of resilience were found to be protective factors, while post-traumatic growth was also higher in men and was associated with higher levels of resilience, perceived competence, and responsibility. Conclusions: The results suggest the need to consider individual risk factors such as being a woman, presenting higher levels of neuroticism and loneliness in understanding the psychological impact of the pandemic on university students. It is concluded that universities should offer specific interventions to address mental health problems and manage the added complications of crisis events on the health of students.
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Journal
Ansiedad y Estrés
Year of Publication
2023
Volume
29
Issue
3
Number of Pages
153-162
Date Published
12/2023
Type of Article
Journal article
Publisher
ISSN Number
1134-7937
ISBN Number
2174-0437
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DOI
10.5093/anyes2023a19