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Evidence about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of specific subpopulations, such as university students, is needed as communities prepare for future waves.
To study the association of proximity of COVID-19 with symptoms of anxiety and depression in university students.
This trend study analysed weekly cross-sectional surveys of probabilistic samples of students from the University of British Columbia for 13 weeks, through the first wave of COVID-19. The main variable assessed was propinquity of COVID-19, defined as ‘knowing someone who tested positive for COVID-19’, which was specified at different levels: knowing someone anywhere globally, in Canada, in Vancouver, in their course or at home. Proximity was included in multivariable linear regressions to assess its association with primary outcomes, including 30-day symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.
Of 1388 respondents (adjusted response rate of 50%), 5.6% knew someone with COVID-19 in Vancouver, 0.8% in their course and 0.3% at home. Ten percent were overwhelmed and unable to access help. Knowing someone in Vancouver was associated with an 11-percentage-point increase in the probability of 30-day anxiety symptoms (s.e. 0.05, P ≤ 0.05), moderated by gender, with a significant interaction of the exposure and being female (coefficient −20, s.e. 0.09, P ≤ 0.05). No association was found with depressive symptoms.
Propinquity of COVID-19 cases may increase the likelihood of anxiety symptoms in students, particularly among men. Most students reported coping well, but additional support is needed for an emotionally overwhelmed minority who report being unable to access help.
Associations between specific parent and offspring mental disorders are likely to have been overestimated in studies that have failed to control for parent comorbidity.
To examine the associations of parent with respondent disorders.
Data come from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Surveys (n = 51 507). Respondent disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and parent disorders with informant-based Family History Research Diagnostic Criteria interviews.
Although virtually all parent disorders examined (major depressive, generalised anxiety, panic, substance and antisocial behaviour disorders and suicidality) were significantly associated with offspring disorders in multivariate analyses, little specificity was found. Comorbid parent disorders had significant sub-additive associations with offspring disorders. Population-attributable risk proportions for parent disorders were 12.4% across all offspring disorders, generally higher in high- and upper-middle- than low-/lower-middle-income countries, and consistently higher for behaviour (11.0–19.9%) than other (7.1–14.0%) disorders.
Parent psychopathology is a robust non-specific predictor associated with a substantial proportion of offspring disorders.
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