Research & Resources

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts on College Student Psychiatric Outcomes and Alcohol Use

The purpose of this study was to expand the literature on the impact of the pandemic on college students by examining psychiatric and alcohol outcomes and controlling for pre-pandemic outcomes. Participants included 897 college students from a larger longitudinal study on college student mental health. Models were fit to examine how COVID-19 impacts (i.e., exposure, worry, food/housing insecurity, changes in social media use, changes in substance use) were associated with PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and alcohol phenotypes. Models were fit to adjust for pre-pandemic symptoms. No effects of COVID-19 exposure remained after adjusting for earlier outcomes. COVID-19 worry predicted PTSD, depression, and anxiety, even after adjusting for earlier levels of outcomes. Changes in social media use predicted alcohol consumption, while changes in substance use affected all outcomes except suicidality. The researchers suggested that future studies examine the trajectory of these factors on college student mental health across waves of the pandemic.

This paper, “The COVID-19 pandemic impacts psychiatric outcomes and alcohol use among college students,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

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