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Research Article

Exploratory Study on the Psychological Impact of COVD-19 on Students

Zeeshan Ahmad Bhutta1,2*, Muhammad Fakhar-e-Alam Kulyar3*, Muhammad Shoaib4, Wangyuan Yao3, Muhammad Asif5, Shah Nawaz6, Moazam Ali7 and Ayesha Kanwal8

1Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom; 2Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan; 3College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, 430070, PR China; 4Institute of Microbiology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan; 5Department of Surgery, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan; 6Department of Pathology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan; 7Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan; 8Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan.

Abstract | The aim of this study was to analyse the strike of severe novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) on domestic students who were at high risk of exposure. A cross sectional study was conducted through a semi structured questionnaire. Recruitment of participants was done from different universities of Pakistan. The results showed that the students are more concerned about their family members (p=0.00). Under this influence they have increased the frequency of handwashing and use masks when they have to go outside. More than half of the students (53.09%) were afraid of the COVID-19 and similar pattern was noted about depression (54.86%). About 57.5% students were willing to take part in online classes, and only 23% found to have some sort of online learning experience. Students were willing to join the volunteer force (82.3%) if they were asked in case of emergency. During COVID-19 outbreak, students should be provided individual social support and urge to obey the precautionary measures to avoid pandemic.


Received | July 18, 2020; Accepted | August 01, 2020; Published | August 17, 2020

*Correspondence | Zeeshan Ahmad Bhutta and Muhammad Fakhar-e-Alam Kulyar, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, 430070, PR China; Email: doctorzeeshan94@gmail.com, fakharealam786@hotmail.com

DOI | http://dx.doi.org/10.17582/journal.hv/2020/7.4.91.96

Citation | Bhutta, Z.A., M.F.A. Kulyar, M. Shoaib, W. Yao, M. Asif, S. Nawaz, M. Ali and A. Kanwal. 2020. Exploratory study on the psychological impact of COVD-19 on students. Hosts and Viruses, 7(4): 91-96.

Keywords | COVID-19, nCoV, SARS-COV-2, Corona virus, China, Pakistan


Introduction

Disease outbreaks naturally causes the profound fear and panic in society (Lee et al., 2006). Corona virus disease has got attention of all the world affecting 1.8 million people and 7,426 deaths in 170 countries (Organization and Others, 2020) staring from the Wuhan, China which is epidemiologically linked to the wholesale fish market (Hui et al., 2020). World Health Organization declared the disease as pandemic and called the disease as COVID-19. Pakistan has now been affected from this virus mainly from the religious travellers coming from the Iran and some other affected countries such as United Kingdom, Australia, USA etc. The epidemic has revived the memory of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which occurred in 2002 and affected 8098 people in 37 countries (Cohen and Normile, 2020). The COVID-19 outbreak currently poses a serious threat to all countries around globe because there is no special treatment (Perlman, 2020). Authorities have partially locked down the cities, that are affecting more than 200 million people of the country. This marks the first time in Pakistan that such response has to be made as a control measure.

According to the policy of Higher Education Commission of Pakistan on COVID-19, Universities of Pakistan ordered to develop an online learning system for students to inhibit transmission of COVID-19 to students and society. Some recommendations were directed to the students e.g. announcements about personal protection, requests for students to stay at home, taking the online classes and special medical centres for the screening of those who have been close contact with patients. Due to less literature on COVID-19, no researcher has studied its social impact on domestic students yet. Therefore, current study was planned to identify the impact of COVID-19 on domestic students living in Pakistan. Study investigated how domestic students perceived different aspects of COVID-19 and how people would react in this epidemic condition in terms of their stay at home also identification of factors that influence its impact and decision of online learning by the Pakistan’s government.

 

Materials and Methods

Data collection

The current study was basically cross-sectional with a semi-structured questionnaire. The questions were designed in light of literature review and were asked informally through phone or skype interviews to 15 domestic students of different universities. Depending upon this informal interview, a questionnaire was developed. Before the use of questionnaire for the final study it was pre-tested and modified accordingly. These pre-tested students with informal interviews were not included in final study. The questionnaire was developed locally according to the domestic conditions and the participants were selected at different cities of Pakistan. Students were approached through social media platform of Whats App class groups developed by the universities teacher to deliver notes and interaction after online lectures. The questionnaire was introduced by a set of online instructions which were scripted, with a statement that neither right nor wrong answer among the given questions, and the purpose of the questionnaire was to determine about the feelings and experience of the participants regarding outbreak. The students were assured about the confidential, voluntaries, and anonymous status of the study. Following variables were assessed by the questionnaires including: sociodemographic status of the participants taken as independent variables. In particular, some psychosocial experiences of participants regarding COVID-19 outbreak were also included in the current investigation.

Data analysis

Statistical software SPSS 20.00 was used to analyse the data. Self-reported COVID-19 related variables were determined through Chi-square test. The significance (p-value) was kept 0.05 for all statistical analysis.

 

Results and Discussion

Total 574 responses were collected from students in different universities, out of them 9 questionnaires were found incomplete. So incomplete responses were excluded from the study. Therefore, the total considered answers were 565.

Sociodemographic characteristics of the respondents revealed that the male and female respondents were 290 (51.3%) and 275 (48.7%) respectively. Out of which 94.7% respondents were single and only 5.4% were married. Moreover, majority of the students were at the of age 18-24 (81.4%) studying bachelor’s degree (81.4%) followed by master’s degree (17.7%) and PhD (0.9%) (Table 1).

Females were found more willing to take part in online lectures as compared to males. Master students were less willing to take the online classes than bachelors’ students. Interestingly, male students were found to have no experience of online education at all, while 48% of the female students had some sort of experience of online education. All the respondents of Master and PhD students have the experience of online education (Table 2). A uniform level of concern (94.7%) about their family was recorded in all levels and age of students besides their site of living. About 82.3% students were willing to be the part of volunteer’s force to help the community (p=0.00) also the students were more curious about their families in concern with precautionary measures (p=0.00) (Table 3).

Students were highly satisfied with the response measurestaken up by the federal and provincial governments (Table 4). Majority of the students postponed their travelling plans and their frequency to wash hands was also increased. (p=0.00).

 

Table 1: Socio-demographic (n=565).

 Characteristics

Site of living during study

Study level

Subject

University hostel

Private hostel

Day scholar

PhD

Master

Bachelor

Science

Arts

Gender

Male

0

9

281

0

0

290

245

45

Female

190

85

0

5

100

170

275

0

Age

18-22 Year

190

94

176

5

100

355

460

0

23-26 Year

0

0

100

0

0

100

60

40

>26 Year

0

0

5

0

0

5

0

5

Relationship

Single

190

94

251

5

100

430

520

15

Married

0

0

30

0

0

30

0

30

 

Table 2: Students who were willing for online classes and students who have previous experience of online classes.

Characteristics

Willing for online classes

Did you have experience of online classes

Yes

(%)

No

(%)

p-value

Yes

(%)

No

(%)

p-value

Gender

Male

50

17.24

240

82.76

0.000

0

0.00

290

100

0.000

Female

275

100

0

0.00

130

47.27

145

52.73

Age

18-22 Year

325

70.65

135

29.35

0.000

130

28.26

330

71.74

0.000

23-26 Year

0

0.00

100

100

0

0.00

100

100

26+

0

0.00

5

100

0

0.00

5

100

Relationship

Single

325

60.75

210

39.25

0.000

130

24.30

405

75.70

0.000

Married

0

0.00

30

100

0

0.00

30

100

Site of living during study

University hostel

190

100

0

0.00

0.000

130

68.42

60

31.58

0.000

Private hostel

94

100

0

0.00

0

0.00

94

100

Day scholar

41

14.59

240

85.41

0

0.00

281

100

Study Level

PhD

5

100

0

0.00

0.000

5

100

0

0.00

0.000

Master

100

100

0

0.00

100

100

0

0.00

Bachelor

220

47.83

240

52.17

25

5.43

435

94.57

Subject

Science

325

62.50

195

37.50

0.000

130

25.0

390

75.0

0.000

Arts

0

0.00

45

100

0

0.00

45

100

 

Table 3: Students who are frequently aware their families about the precautionary measures and the students who are willing to join the volunteers force of the Government of Pakistan during to COVID-19 outbreak.

Characteristics

Did you aware your family, friends for adopting precautionary measures

p-value

If the Government requires, would you like to volunteer against COVID-19?

p-value

Yes

(%)

No

(%)

Yes

No

Gender

Male

260

89.66

30

10.34

0.000

190

65.52

100

34.48

0.000

Female

275

100

0

0.00

275

100

0

0.00

Age

18-22 Year

460

100

0

0.00

0.000

460

100

0

0.00

0.000

23-26 Year

75

75.0

25

25.0

5

5.0

95

95.0

26+ Year

0

0.00

5

100

0

0.00

5

100

Relationship

Single

535

100

0

0.00

0.000

465

86.92

70

13.08

0.000

Married

0

0.00

30

100

0

0.00

30

100

Site of living during study

University hostel

190

100

0

0.00

0.000

190

100

0

0.00

0.000

Private hostel

94

100

0

0.00

94

100

0

0.00

Day scholar

251

89.32

30

10.68

181

64.41

100

35.59

Study Level

PhD

5

100

0

0.00

0.000

5

100

0

0.00

0.000

Master

100

100

0

0.00

100

100

0

0.00

Bachelor

430

93.48

30

6.52

360

78.26

100

21.74

Subject

Science

520

100

0

0.00

0.000

465

89.42

55

10.58

0.000

Arts

15

33.33

30

66.66

0

0.00

45

100

 

Table 4: Impact of COVID-19 in the student’s life.

Question

Gender

Male

Female

Level of Concern about COVID-19 in Pakistan

Extremely high

0

145

High

86

130

Moderate

158

0

Low

40

0

Nothing

6

0

Frequency of Talk about COVID-19

Extremely high

10

275

High

180

0

Moderate

76

0

Low

19

0

Nothing

5

0

Experiencing fear of COVID-19

Extremely high

0

130

High

25

145

Moderate

135

0

Low

85

0

Nothing

45

0

Worry about family members

Extremely high

0

215

High

150

60

Moderate

95

0

Low

25

0

Nothing

20

0

Depression about the Pandemic taking place in Pakistan

Extremely high

0

130

High

35

145

Moderate

155

0

Low

65

0

Nothing

35

0

Response of Provincial Government against COVID-19

Extremely high

0

80

High

50

195

Moderate

165

0

Low

65

0

Nothing

10

0

Response of Federal Government against COVID-19

Extremely high

0

135

High

90

140

Moderate

140

0

Low

50

0

Nothing

10

0

Are you satisfied with the quarantine measures taken up by the government

Extremely high

0

105

High

0

165

Moderate

170

5

Low

85

0

Nothing

35

0

Decreased contact with other people in the fear of COVID-19 contamination?

Extremely high

0

115

High

10

160

Moderate

195

0

Low

65

0

Nothing

20

0

Do you have postponed the affected areas

Extremely high

0

255

High

135

20

Moderate

85

0

Low

50

0

Nothing

20

0

Question

Gender

Male

Female

Decreased visits to public gathering

Extremely high

0

275

High

160

0

Moderate

85

0

Low

25

0

Nothing

20

0

Increased care of washing hands?

Extremely high

55

275

High

175

0

Moderate

55

0

Low

0

0

Nothing

5

0

Increased care of room ventilation

Extremely high

0

205

High

145

70

Moderate

110

0

Low

20

0

Nothing

15

0

Increased care of wearing face mask?

Extremely high

0

135

High

35

140

Moderate

165

0

Low

55

0

Nothing

35

0

Frequency of watching News Chanel for COVID-19 updates

Extremely high

0

220

High

170

55

Moderate

75

0

Low

35

0

Nothing

10

0

Are you satisfied with the behavior of people about quarantine measures?

Extremely high

0

90

High

0

135

Moderate

135

50

Low

80

0

Nothing

75

0

 

In some open ended questions most students were worried about the outbreak and suggested government to improve the control measures on immediate bases (Box 1).

Our study also revealed that the outbreak had a great impact on their daily lives. They faced worriedness, helplessness and fear. Some other researchers also found similar responses. A wide range of penetrating psychological responses were prescriptive in present study as an immediate reverberation to a sudden disaster. Every year individuals and communities are being affected by disasters, which disrupts their mental health and well-being (Makwana, 2019). However, its diverse effects could be minimised by dealing it with in appropriate time and accurate manners (Stöhr, 2003). Some typical psychological responses of tested individuals against COVID-19 outbreak were

 

Box 1: Selected suggestions of students in open ended questions.

  • Government officials should wisely deal with the measures specified by WHO. A corruption free and selfless action should be taken. Government officials including PM should monitor the facilities and measures that adopted at quarantine centers. Public should be educated more and more through social media about the risks.
  • There should be more strictness and awareness. There must be awareness on media that only one person from every home should go outside for buying goods for living, children or old ones should not go outside.
  • Provide doctors with the essential health safety and other equipment to combat with outbreak. Provide poor people with daily necessities because they are not able to fulfill their needs due to lockdown.
  • Make face masks, sanitizer at suitable rates and improve quarantine measures.
  • Government 1st of all should a make a policy regarding food supply to underprivileged people and labourers. For that purpose, government should make committee of volunteers in their relevant town. They will work voluntarily to supply food for needy ones. Furthermore, proper awareness campaign should also be launched with help of student’s committee. I request to government of Pakistan please do all these measures as early as possible to reduce this outbreak. Government can also increase its revenue by deducting salaries of government officers to fulfil the needs.
  • Don't create panic in community through social media. Digital media should be aware of spreading fake news and restrain of posting fabricated news. Government should also take steps against such persons who spread fake news.
  • Research on vaccine development should be boosted up. Secondly our media should play a positive role because the frequency of talk shows regarding the hypothetical concerns of COVID-19 increase the panic condition in public.
  • Be like Chinese Government in taking strict measures against virus.

 

expressed in this study. Around 94.7% of the students revealed that they informed their family, friends for adopting precautionary measures. Our study also revealed the self-protective behaviour of respondents. However, it was striking that a number of students were reluctant themselves to contact with other people during pandemic period due to fear of virus transmission. Findings of some other researchers are also in line with ours, showing over-exaggerated impact of community against such type of outbreaks in case if there is no proper communication and organised public response e.g. symptoms related to bioterrorism amplify psychological responses unintentionally that leads to enhance its impact its impact (Stein et al., 2004).

The current study indicates that impact of COVID-19 associated with several factors. The most important is residence area of respondents during studying at university. This is mainly concern with the safety of respondent’s family members, friends and relatives from the areas affected with COVID-19, as showed in the results related to such experiences.

The current study also have some limitation. First of all is the small sample size, the generalization of the findings is lemmatized because of unawareness of non-participants behaviour in comparison with respondents. Second is the self-reported impact which is kept as dependent variable might be different from that as a result of their personal experiences, hence increasing the susceptibility of biasness. Our findings are indicative but not conclusive due to the limitations of the data. Forthcoming studies are necessary for further exploration of the association of the psychosocial impact because, less information regarding psychological behaviour has been available for the guidance and psychosocial support of affected people during epidemics.

 

Conclusion

The findings of our study are valuable and meaningful for the policy makers of health department and those who provides services for the interventions of students during pandemic situations. Depending upon the findings of current study it is highly recommended to create awareness regarding safety and counteraction against helplessness condition persuaded by the pandemic. Continuing public education about preventive measures should also be adopted. Such integrative assessment can be achieved via modern communication platforms.

 

Acknowledgments

None.

 

Authors Contribution

Zeeshan Ahmad Bhutta: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing - Original draft preparation

Muhammad Fakhar-e-Alam Kulyar: Methodology, Writing - Original draft preparation

Muhammad Shoaib: Formal analysis

Wangyuan Yao: Software, Formal analysis

Muhammad Asif: Software, Validation

Shah Nawaz: Resources, Visualization

Moazam Ali: Writing - Review and Editing

Ayesha Kanwal: Writing - Review and Editing.

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.

Funding

This research received no external funding.

 

References

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