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Evaluation of Factors Associated with Anxiety and Depression in Chinese Visiting Scholars in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic Assessed by Online Questionnaires

Yanjie Zhao, Ping Wang, Jiangping Wu, Ruibin Wang, Qingkun Song

Department of Medical Oncology, Beijing Shijitan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e926602

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.926602

Available online: 2020-08-12

Published: 2020-09-23


BACKGROUND: This study aimed to use online questionnaires to evaluate the factors associated with anxiety and depression in Chinese visiting scholars in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Using a cross-sectional design, 311 Chinese scholars visiting 41 states in the United States were interviewed on 20 and 21 April 2020 through WeChat using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaire.
RESULTS: Of these 311 visiting scholars, 69 (22.2%) reported no symptoms of anxiety or depression, whereas 63 (20.3%) reported severe anxiety and 67 (21.5%) reported severe depression. Risk of anxiety was 93% higher in visiting scholars with than without accompanying parents in the US (odds ratio [OR], 1.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-3.68) and was 1.72-fold (95% CI, 1.04-2.84) higher in those experiencing stress about family members with COVID-19. Stresses about personal security and return to China on schedule were associated with 1.73-fold (95% CI, 1.03-2.92) and 3.00-fold (95% CI, 1.51-5.95) higher risks of anxiety, respectively. Risks of depression were 1.86-fold (95% CI, 1.14-3.05), 1.84-fold (95% CI, 1.10-3.07), and 3.45-fold (95% CI, 1.72-6.92) higher in visiting Chinese scholars who were than were not experiencing stresses about financial support, personal security and return to China on schedule, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Chinese scholars visiting the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced severe psychological distress. Surveys that include larger numbers of visiting scholars are warranted.

Keywords: Anxiety, COVID-19, Depression



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