Throughout the pandemic of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2, university students were considered a vulnerable risk group for mental health impairment and wellbeing deterioration. This study aimed at evaluating the pandemic’s impact on the physical and mental health and wellbeing among students of a Portuguese university. This cross-sectional study included 913 participants and ran from June to October 2020. Data collected included sociodemographics, three mental health self-report questionnaires (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire and Brief COPE) and lifestyle practices (eating and sleeping patterns, media, and entertainment habits) during the first months of the pandemic, which included a 72-day full national lockdown. Descriptive and correlational statistical analysis were conducted. Students’ food habits changed during the pandemic, namely on the consumption of snacks and fast food and, overall, less balanced meals became more prevalent. Additionally, almost 70% of the students reported Body Mass Index changes, while 59% went through sleep pattern changes–these were more pronounced in women and younger students. Over half (67%) of the inquirees exhibited an increase in their stress, depression, and generalized anxiety symptoms. Also, the study demonstrates that students’ lifestyles trended negatively during the pandemic and highlights how important regular psychological, health monitoring and emotional support is, amongst this somehow overlooked population throughout the pandemic. Universities should provide support to overcome challenges in future stressful situations. This study might have an impact on how universities and higher education systems approach their students in terms of mental and physical health monitoring and promotion in future situations, nonrelated with COVID. Moreover, it has a large sample of students well characterized in terms of mental and physical health, which might be of interest for future comparison with other worldwide group of students throughout stressful situations, such as tragic events, wars, pandemics.
Idioma originalEnglish
Número do artigoe0285317
Número de páginas15
RevistaPLoS one
Número de emissão5
Estado da publicaçãoPublicado - 4 mai. 2023

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