May 30, 2023

Spanish university students present a high prevalence of emotional and academic problems after the coronavirus pandemic. More than two thirds of the students of the Spanish university present anxiety symptoms ―47.6% reach scores indicative of a clinical case of anxiety and another 24.9%, of a probable case―, while more than 40% of Spanish university students recognize depressive symptomatology. This emotional discomfort, increased during covid-19, is related to a deterioration in academic and professional performance and personal well-being.

They are outstanding conclusions in the study Problems and demands for psychological treatment of university students in the post-pandemic led by researchers from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Oviedo, in collaboration with 35 public and private Spanish universities and in which 5,221 undergraduate and postgraduate students from all branches have participated, during March and April 2022. The results have made it possible to identify a series of concrete academic, interpersonal and emotional problems, with a high prevalence and transversality in courses and branches of knowledge, on which to guide specific prevention and treatment interventions.

Anxiety is presented as a transversal problem among university students with the same severity and frequency in all undergraduate and postgraduate training courses. Although there are statistically significant differences between the Arts and Humanities students, who present significantly higher values ​​than the rest of the branches. It is the Health Sciences student body that shows the greatest psychological well-being compared to the other branches. However, the authors of the study consider that it is not prudent to speak of a differential profile of each of the branches.

The data, according to the study, have increased due to the effect of the pandemic and confinement. 70% of the participants affirm that their emotional state worsened as a result of the pandemic, whereas around 40% considered that the deterioration was between quite a lot and a lot. And this translated into lower academic performance: around 60% of those surveyed reported a deterioration in their performance due to changes in academic life due to covid-19 and 70% present, to some extent, difficulties in their attention and concentration as a result of the health crisis. Conclusion: 40.8% of the participants in this work would request psychological attention due to dissatisfaction with their academic performance and 74% to get away from problems and concerns.

Given this scenario, the authors of the paper conclude that it is necessary to develop measures aimed at the prevention and treatment of psychological problems in university students, especially since they affect not only their quality of life, but also academic performance and dropout. . As an example, the study reveals that at least 20% of the students of all the undergraduate courses of the Spanish university report quite or a lot of dissatisfaction with their academic performance and 60% of the first year of the undergraduate degree recognize between quite a lot and a lot of difficulty to improve. his study method.

Specific interventions

The coordinator of the study is Professor Concha Fernández-Rodríguez, Professor of Analysis and Behavior Modification at the University of Oviedo: “Validly evaluating the problems of the university community in the post-pandemic period is presented as the first measure to establish intervention actions and adequate promotion”, he explains. “Considering the difficulties referred to by the participants in this study, it could be said that Spanish university students are currently overloaded with academic work, with emotional discomfort compatible with clinical anxiety, with considerable and great difficulty in distancing themselves from their problems. /worries, with the same difficulty asking for help and with quite a feeling of tension and physical discomfort”.

In the comparison between courses and branches, most of the differences are found in academic problems, that is, they refer to the effectiveness of the student’s study method, their academic performance and overload, and fear of public speaking.

This study has made it possible to identify specific academic and emotional problems with a high prevalence and transversality to all courses and branches of study at the Spanish university, which, in the opinion of the authors, suggests that they are of outstanding interest in promoting specific interventions. “The prevention and treatment of psychological problems of students cannot be alien to the concerns and competences of the problems and demands for psychological treatment of university students in the post-pandemic, especially when the therapeutic effect of psychological assistance to university students is repeatedly identified as a protective factor against academic dropout and a promoter of performance and quality of life”, sums up Professor Fernández-Rodríguez.


The 5,221 students completed a questionnaire on-lineaccessible on the Google Forms platform and which included validated tests widely used in related research and questions ad hoc. The deans and student representatives of the 35 collaborating Spanish universities disseminated, through their communication channels with students (distribution lists, web publication, etc.), the web extension to access the questionnaire, together with the pertinent instructions and indications and ethical and data protection guarantees. Descriptive and multivariate analyzes were performed to compare the differences between branches of study and between academic courses. This was done for the group of participants from the Spanish university. The total study sample, due to its size, was representative of the population analyzed at a confidence level of 95% and with a margin of error for global data of 5%.

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