Fear of COVID-19 and its Impact on Maltese University Students’ Wellbeing and Substance Use

Friday, 25 November, 2022 - 10:50 to 12:20


COVID-19 has negatively impacted wellbeing with implications for mental health and substance use. In particular, students have experienced major disruptions in their academic experience. The present study, conducted in cooperation with Ben Gurion University Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Centre, used the ‘Fear of COVID-19 Scale’ (FCV-19S) to assess fear of COVID-19 amongst a non-probability convenience sample of students from the University of Malta. Participants were asked about how the fear of COVID-19 had impacted their substance use, including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and prescription medication, as well as its impact on their emotional states. Other variables included participants’ gender, age, and level of religiosity. A Chi Square test of association for the variables of interest was done using SPSS (v. 26),

777 students completed the survey. The mean score on the Fear of COVID-19 Scale (FCV-19S) was 24.2. The majority of participants (n = 252, 32%) scored in the high range (M = 24.2, SD = 6.7), followed by 233 (29.9%) participants who had a medium level of fear and 227 (29.2%) participants with low fear. Significant associations exist between fear of COVID-19 and self-reported increase in alcohol use, as well as COVID-19 fear and negative emotional conditions. Females and religious participants experienced higher levels of fear of COVID-19. The results of this study show that university students in Malta are negatively impacted by COVID-19 and that support services need to deal with the potential fallout arising from increased negative emotional states and increased substance use.




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