Brooke Jenkins, Julia Boehm
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased mental health risk among college students. Recent studies have suggested that this concerning phenomenon can be attributed to social isolation and loneliness caused by preventive measures including social distancing. Being socially isolated can also have harmful effects on one’s physical health, such as a weakened cardiovascular system. Furthermore, existing literature reported that social support can promote more active coping strategies, which is associated with better psychological adjustment. Nevertheless, there hasn’t been any research on the influence of social factors and loneliness both on students’ health and their coping styles during the pandemic. The purpose of the present study is to investigate how loneliness and perceived social support are associated with the physical health and coping styles of college students during COVID-19. As for the coping measure, the study will look specifically at two types of coping strategies: active coping and self-distraction. The variables were measured through an online survey administered across five different time points in 2020 with students enrolled in Chapman University. The study will focus on the first two waves of the survey, which took place in May and July of 2020. Social support and loneliness in May will be used to predict physical health and coping styles in July. It is hypothesized that students who reported higher levels of perceived social support would show better physical health and use active coping more than self-distraction. It is also predicted that those who feel higher levels of loneliness would report poorer physical health and engage more in self-distraction than in active coping. This study may contribute to the necessary endeavor to improve the physical and psychological wellbeing of college students during the global health crisis by promoting higher social support and alleviating the sense of loneliness.
Lee, Hee Youn; Venkatesh, Harshitha V.; Boehm, Julia K.; and Jenkins, Brooke N., "The Impacts of Social Support and Loneliness on the Physical Health and Coping Styles of College Students during COVID-19" (2021). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 461.