Assessing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, shift to online learning, and social media use on student mental health in the Philippines: a mixed-methods study protocol

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PLoS One. 2022 May 3;17(5):e0267555. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267555. eCollection 2022.


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic declared by the WHO has affected many countries rendering daily life interrupted. In the Philippines, lockdown quarantine protocols have moved traditional college classes online. The abrupt transition to online courses can have psychological effects on students due to continued isolation and lack of interaction with other students and teachers. Our study aims to assess the mental health status of Filipino students and to estimate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to online learning, and the use of social media on mental health. Additionally, facilitators or stressors that have altered students’ mental health status during the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine, and subsequent shift to online learning will be investigated.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: A mixed methods study design will be used, which will involve: (1) an online survey of 2,100 college students across the Philippines; and (2) 20-40 randomly selected key informant (KII) interviews. An online self-administered questionnaire (SAQ) including the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) and the Brief-COPE will be used. Additionally, socio-demographic factors, use of social media, shift to online learning factors, family history of mental health and COVID-19, and other factors that may affect mental health will also be included in the SAQ. KIIs will explore factors affecting mental health, behaviors, coping mechanism, current stressors, and other emotional responses to those stressors. Associations between mental health outcomes and possible risk factors will be estimated using generalized linear models, while a thematic approach will be adopted for KII outcomes. The results of the study will then be triangulated and summarized.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Our study was approved by the University of the Philippines Manila Research Ethics Board (UPMREB 2021-099-01). Results will be actively disseminated through conference presentations, peer-reviewed journals, social media, print and broadcast media, and various stakeholder activities.

PMID:35503779 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0267555

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