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Article

Students’ Views towards Sars-Cov-2 Mass Asymptomatic Testing, Social Distancing and Self-Isolation in a University Setting during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study

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School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2HA, UK
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NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
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School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
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University Executive Board, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
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Biodiscovery Institute, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
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School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
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School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
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School of Computer Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG8 1BB, UK
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Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sven Bremberg
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 4182; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084182
Received: 30 March 2021 / Revised: 8 April 2021 / Accepted: 8 April 2021 / Published: 15 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Workplace Health and Wellbeing during and beyond COVID-19)
We aimed to explore university students’ perceptions and experiences of SARS-CoV-2 mass asymptomatic testing, social distancing and self-isolation, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This qualitative study comprised of four rapid online focus groups conducted at a higher education institution in England, during high alert (tier 2) national COVID-19 restrictions. Participants were purposively sampled university students (n = 25) representing a range of gender, age, living circumstances (on/off campus), and SARS-CoV-2 testing/self-isolation experiences. Data were analysed using an inductive thematic approach. Six themes with 16 sub-themes emerged from the analysis of the qualitative data: ‘Term-time Experiences’, ‘Risk Perception and Worry’, ‘Engagement in Protective Behaviours’, ‘Openness to Testing’, ‘Barriers to Testing’ and ‘General Wellbeing’. Students described feeling safe on campus, believed most of their peers are adherent to protective behaviours and were positive towards asymptomatic testing in university settings. University communications about COVID-19 testing and social behaviours need to be timely and presented in a more inclusive way to reach groups of students who currently feel marginalised. Barriers to engagement with SARS-CoV-2 testing, social distancing and self-isolation were primarily associated with fear of the mental health impacts of self-isolation, including worry about how they will cope, high anxiety, low mood, guilt relating to impact on others and loneliness. Loneliness in students could be mitigated through increased intra-university communications and a focus on establishment of low COVID-risk social activities to help students build and enhance their social support networks. These findings are particularly pertinent in the context of mass asymptomatic testing programmes being implemented in educational settings and high numbers of students being required to self-isolate. Universities need to determine the support needs of students during self-isolation and prepare for the long-term impacts of the pandemic on student mental health and welfare support services. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; mass testing; social isolation; social distancing; mental health; students; focus groups; qualitative COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; mass testing; social isolation; social distancing; mental health; students; focus groups; qualitative
MDPI and ACS Style

Blake, H.; Knight, H.; Jia, R.; Corner, J.; Morling, J.R.; Denning, C.; Ball, J.K.; Bolton, K.; Figueredo, G.; Morris, D.E.; Tighe, P.; Villalon, A.M.; Ayling, K.; Vedhara, K. Students’ Views towards Sars-Cov-2 Mass Asymptomatic Testing, Social Distancing and Self-Isolation in a University Setting during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 4182. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084182

AMA Style

Blake H, Knight H, Jia R, Corner J, Morling JR, Denning C, Ball JK, Bolton K, Figueredo G, Morris DE, Tighe P, Villalon AM, Ayling K, Vedhara K. Students’ Views towards Sars-Cov-2 Mass Asymptomatic Testing, Social Distancing and Self-Isolation in a University Setting during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(8):4182. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084182

Chicago/Turabian Style

Blake, Holly, Holly Knight, Ru Jia, Jessica Corner, Joanne R. Morling, Chris Denning, Jonathan K. Ball, Kirsty Bolton, Grazziela Figueredo, David E. Morris, Patrick Tighe, Armando M. Villalon, Kieran Ayling, and Kavita Vedhara. 2021. "Students’ Views towards Sars-Cov-2 Mass Asymptomatic Testing, Social Distancing and Self-Isolation in a University Setting during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 8: 4182. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084182

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