Fear of COVID-19 Effects on University Student’s Health Behaviours: The FRESH Study

Madison Grande, Patricia Doyle-Baker

Abstract


Background: The imposed stay-at-home restrictions with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic disrupted daily routines and impacted some population groups more than others. One such group included university students who were forced to adapt to online classes reducing face to face interactions. The uncertainty associated with this change may have created a sense of anxiety and fear towards the virus. Objective: The objective of this study was to measure the level of fear associated with COVID-19 in Canadian undergrad university students and the influence fear may have on their health-related behaviours during an ongoing pandemic. Methods: Students enrolled in four large universities in the province of Alberta were invited to complete an online Fear of COVID-19 Scale (FCV-19S) from January 4th to February 15th, 2021. Results: Undergraduate students (n=680; 73.4% female) with a mean age of 23 (SD 5) years had an average FCV-19 score of 17.1 (SD 6.1) out of 35. Many students (60%) categorized their fear in the moderate range and females were more likely to have a higher FCV-19 score (p<.05) than males. Increases in alcohol and substance use, sleeping and eating behaviours were significantly associated (p<.05) with higher FCV-19 scores (p=.047; p=.000; p=.000). Most student’s smoking behaviour (80.5%) remained the same, however physical activity decreased. Conclusion: In summary, students showed a moderate level of fear associated with COVID-19 during the pandemic, and those with greater levels of fear reported more negative heath behaviour choices. These results highlight that continued restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic continue to negatively impact student’s health behaviours.

Keywords


Pandemics, Fear, COVID-19, Health Behaviour, Students, Universities

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijkss.v.9n.3p52

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