Resilience, adverse childhood experiences, and mental health in Health Science students during the COVID-19 pandemic

Felipe Agudelo Hernández, María Benavides Bastidas, Fernando Arango Gómez



Introduction. A steady rise in mental problems has been observed in the university population, particularly in the area of health, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Protective factors such as resilience and risk factors such as adverse events in childhood have been associated with mental health outcomes.

Objective. Describe psychiatric symptoms and their association with adverse childhood experiences and resilience in first-semester students in the three undergraduate programs of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Caldas, Colombia in 2020.

Method. Descriptive, cross-sectional, correlational study, using a virtual survey including the SRQ (Self Reporting Questionnaire), Wagnild and Young’s Resilience Scale and questions on adverse childhood experiences.

Results. A total of 108 students with a mean age of 19.6 years participated in the study. Affective symptoms were found in 6.4% of subjects. The most frequent level of resilience was medium, while the most commonly reported adverse event was child abuse. An association was found between being exposed to adverse childhood experiences and the presence of symptoms that compromise mental health and alter one of the domains of resilience. A link was also found between the presence of these symptoms and the alteration of domains of resilience.

Discussion and conclusion. It was possible to identify a risk of mental health disorders in students, and to establish an association between adverse events in childhood and resilience.


Mental health; students; adverse childhood experiences; resilience psychological; COVID-19

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