Mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the years before – a cohort study on sports students

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Within the student population, sports students represent a special cohort that struggles with specific academic and developmental challenges. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that sports students are particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of their mental health. Therefore, this study examines whether the mental health of sports students changed during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic data.
We compared 907 students before the COVID-19 pandemic to 1124 students during the COVID-19 pandemic (55.7% BA, 13.3% MA, and 29.4% PE students). Mental health was assessed with the PHQ-2 (risk for depression) and the WHO-5 (well-being). Both are screening instruments with acceptable sensitivity and specificity. To identify students at risk, a cut-off score of ≥ 3 (PHQ-2) or of ≤ 12 (WHO-5) was used.
Results show that risk for depression was significantly higher (M = 2.42, SD = 1.47 vs. M = 1.32, SD = 1.11) and well-being was significantly lower (M = 11.38, SD = 4.99 vs. M = 15.04, SD = 4.36) during COVID-19 compared with pre-pandemic. In addition, significantly more students were at high risk for depression (11.1% vs. 38.3%) or showed severely reduced well-being (24.6% vs. 57.3%) during COVID-19 compared with pre-pandemic.
The results are comparable to studies of other study programs. It remains to be examined to what extent this impairment also affects the further personality development of the students after the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFEPSAC 2022 - Abstract Book : 16th EUROPEAN CONGRESS of SPORT & EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY ; Sport, exercise and performance psychology: challenges and opportunities in a changing world
Number of pages1
PublisherEuropean Federation of Sport Psychology
Publication date01.08.2022
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2022
Event16th European Congress of Sport & Exercise Psychology: Sport, exercise and performance psychology: challenges and opportunities in a changing world - University of Padova; Padova City Hall, Padova, Italy
Duration: 11.07.202216.07.2022
Conference number: 16
https://fepsac2022.eu/

ID: 7514943

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