Health and well-being of university students before and during COVID-19 pandemic: A gender comparison
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionGestsdottir, S., Gisladottir, T., Stefansdottir, R., Johannsson, E., Jakobsdottir, G., & Rognvaldsdottir, V. (2021). Health and well-being of university students before and during COVID-19 pandemic: A gender comparison. Plos One, 16(12):e0261346. 10.1371/journal.pone.0261346
Objective COVID-19 has affected people’s health in various ways. University students are a particularly sensitive group for mental and physical health issues. The aim of this study was to assess and compare the mental and physical health of male and female first-year university students during and before COVID-19. Method Total of 115 first-year university students (54% male) answered questions about mental and physical health. The students were asked to estimate their physical activity, sedentary behavior, loneliness, stress, and sleep quality during COVID-19 opposed to before the pandemic. Result Males had fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and their self-esteem was higher than females (p<0.05). Over 50% of both genders estimated their mental health to be worse than before COVID-19. Larger proportion of males (69%) compared to females (38%) estimated that their physical health had worsened than before the pandemic. Larger proportion of females (38%) than males (14%) experience increased loneliness and stress (68% vs. 48%). Over 70% of both genders estimated increased sedentary behavior than before the pandemic, and larger proportion of males (76%), compared to females (56%), estimated that they were less physically active than before COVID-19. About 50% of participants estimated their sleep quality was worse than before COVID-19. Conclusion University students estimated their mental and physical health to have deteriorated during the pandemic. Therefore, it is important that the school and healthcare systems assist students in unwinding these negative health and lifestyle changes that have accompanied the pandemic.