Health-related quality of life among US young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychiatric symptoms and emotional experiences to target within clinical practice

BACKGROUND: The current study aimed to determine the role of psychological experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic (depression, anxiety, loneliness, and COVID-19–related grief and worry) on young adult physical and mental health functioning as measured by health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

METHODS: Using hierarchical multiple regression analyses, this cross-sectional study examined psychological predictors of physical and mental health functioning among young adults (age 18 to 30 years) from April 13 to September 5, 2020.

RESULTS: Pre-existing depression diagnoses (beta = −0.124, P < .001), current depression symptoms (beta = −0.298, P < .001), and COVID19–related worry (beta = −0.142, P < .001) significantly predicted poorer physical health functioning. Current depression and anxiety symptoms (beta = −0.342 and beta = −0.268), loneliness (beta = −0.135), and COVID19–related grief (beta = −0.180) predicted lower self-reported mental health functioning (P < .001). Black (beta = −0.072) and Hispanic/Latinx participants (beta = −0.082) were more likely to indicate poorer physical health functioning (P < .01) relative to White participants, whereas women reported poorer mental health relative to men (beta = −0.047, P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: This study identifies potential negative impacts of pandemic-related psychological experiences for young adults’ health during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a need to consider mental health symptomatology, COVID-19–related experiences, race, and gender when designing efforts to address long-term implications on health.

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