Stress and associated factors among French university students under the COVID-19 lockdown: The results of the PIMS-CoV 19 study

J Affect Disord. 2021 Mar 15;283:108-114. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.01.041. Epub 2021 Jan 18.


Objectives: The novel coronavirus disease has caused a global public health emergency. This study aimed to investigate perceived stress levels due to the COVID-19 outbreak and explore associated factors among students under lockdown.

Methods: Sociodemographic data, living and learning conditions and existing scales of perceived stress (PSS) and social support (MSPSS) were administered to French students via an online survey. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between severe perceived stress and different factors.

Results: Among 3764 university students, the average PSS score was 19.2 (SD=8.3), and 22% experienced high perceived stress. The presence of someone hospitalized for COVID-19 in one's household (OR=6, 95% CI: 2.4-14.6) and female gender (OR=2.3, 95% CI: 1.9-2.9) were the main risk factors for severe perceived stress. The following risk factors were also identified: enrollment in the arts, humanities and language program; postponement of a final examination; reduced learning time; conflicts at home and with neighbors; difficulties isolating; noise inside or outside one's home; a lack of direct outdoor access; increased alcohol and tobacco consumption; and the perceived ineffectiveness of the use of media entertainment to calm down. Friend support (OR=0.87, 95% CI: 0.82-0.93) and family support (OR=0.79, 95% CI: 0.74-0.84) and the perceived effectiveness of physical exercise (OR=0.5, 95% CI: 0.4-0.6) for calming down were protective factors.

Conclusion: These findings highlight the factors that should be taken into account to counteract students' stress and the need to focus on students during epidemics.

Keywords: COVID-19; Lockdown; Stress; Students.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Students
  • Universities