Session Abstract: Background and Purpose

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant source of stress and worry for many people (Torales, O'Higgins, Castaldelli-Maia, & Ventriglio, 2020). The pervasive pandemic has affected everyday life, including public health (Rothstein, 2020), education (Crawford et al., 2020), and the economy (Nicola et al., 2020). We used factor analyses to identify undergraduates' areas of concern and their coping techniques regarding COVID-19.

Subjects

The sample was 222 undergraduates (Cisgender women=166, Cisgender men=32; Agender=11, Non-binary=3, Gender nonconforming=1, Other/no answer=9; White=37.8%, Black=23.0%, Hispanic=25.2%, Asian=8.6%, less frequent=5.5%) from a large southwestern university. Mean age was 20.5.

Methods and Materials

The COPE-EAC COVID-19 is a 64-item self-report measure that assesses coping mechanisms using Carver et al.'s (1989) COPE measure and Stanton et al.'s (2000) Emotional Approach Coping (EAC) scale. The Concerns with COVID-19 scale is a 25-item self-report measure measuring primary appraisal adapted from Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, and DeLongis (1986) to relate to COVID-19.

Analyses and Results

Factor analyses determined twelve factors describing items of the COPE-EAC that explained 66.02% of the variance, and six factors describing items of the Concerns with COVID-19 measure that explained 54.74% of the variance. The greatest source of concern was the fear of oneself or a loved one becoming ill (M = 4.06), while the issue of least concern was related to work or technology concerns (M = 2.68). Participants reported coping through distraction most often (M = 2.77) and coping through substance use least often (M = 0.06).

Conclusions

These results elucidate the wide-ranging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns specific to undergraduate university students. While the actual illness appeared to be of greatest concern, issues related to work and school were also noted. Participants also reported using a wide variety of coping techniques, although it is possible the use of substances was underreported.

Presenters:

Courtney Sanders | University of North Texas

Sharon Rae Jenkins | University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Wesley Kraft | University of North Texas, Denton, TX

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