Social Distancing among Medical Students during the 2019 Coronavirus Disease Pandemic in China: Disease Awareness, Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Behavioral Activities.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 07 14; 17(14)IJ
During the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, harsh social distancing measures were taken in China to contain viral spread. We examined their impact on the lives of medical students.
A nation-wide cross-sectional survey of college students was conducted from 4-12 February 2020. We enrolled medical students studying public health in Beijing and Wuhan to assess their COVID-19 awareness and to evaluate their mental health status/behaviors using a self-administered questionnaire. We used the Patient Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 and Health Questionnaire-9 to measure anxiety disorders and depression. We used multivariable logistic regression and path analysis to assess the associations between covariates and anxiety disorder/depression.
Of 933 students, 898 (96.2%) reported wearing masks frequently when going out, 723 (77.5%) reported daily handwashing with soap, 676 (72.5%) washed hands immediately after arriving home, and 914 (98.0%) reported staying home as much as possible. Prevalence of anxiety disorder was 17.1% and depression was 25.3%. Multivariable logistic regression showed anxiety to be associated with graduate student status (odds ratio (aOR) = 2.0; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2-3.5), negative thoughts or actions (aOR = 1.6; 95% CI: 1.4-1.7), and feeling depressed (aOR = 6.8; 95% CI: 4.0-11.7). Beijing students were significantly less likely to have anxiety than those in the Wuhan epicenter (aOR = 0.9; 95% CI: 0.8-1.0), but depression did not differ. Depression was associated with female students (aOR = 2.0; 95% CI: 1.2-3.3), negative thoughts or actions (aOR = 1.7; 95% CI: 1.5-1.9), and anxiety disorder (aOR = 5.8; 95% CI: 3.4-9.9). Path analysis validated these same predictors.
Despite medical students' knowledge of disease control and prevention, their lives were greatly affected by social distancing, especially in the Wuhan epicenter. Even well-informed students needed psychological support during these extraordinarily stressful times.