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Anxiety and depression among US college students engaging in undergraduate research during the COVID-19 pandemic

Grineski et al. / Journal of American College Health / December 2021

This study examined the mental health of undergraduate researchers (UGRs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors surveyed 962 UGRs who were conducting research in Spring 2020 at over 100 US universities. They conducted an online survey in July 2020 and analyzed data using descriptive statistics and multivariable generalized estimating equations. 63% reported at least mild anxiety and 73% reported at least mild depression based on GAD-7 and PHQ-9 scores; 15.2% reported severe anxiety (score ≥ 15) and 23.4% reported severe depression (score ≥ 15). More COVID-19-related adverse event experiences were associated with more severe anxiety and depression, as were first-generation status, woman gender, and LGBQ status. Greater social support was protective, and significantly more so for men (vs. women) and continuing generation (vs. first generation) students. Faculty have an important role in the mental health of their mentees. Additional interventions are needed to better support women and first-generation students.