Background: The majority of medical students in China have experienced home confinement and a reliance on online resources to study medicine since the outbreak of COVID-19. More time spent studying online during the COVID-19 pandemic may be a potential risk factor for problematic smartphone use, since smartphones have become the most commonly used device for accessing the internet. The objective of the present study was to explore the association between anxiety, smartphone problematic use and sleep disturbance among medical students during the enforced COVID-19 home confinement. Methods: Altogether, 666 medical students validly answered a self-administered questionnaire, which included the Chinese version of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale, Smartphone addiction scale - short version, and the PROMIS Sleep Disturbance scale (short form). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were employed to explore the associated factors of anxiety. Structural equation modeling was conducted to test hypothesized associations. Results: Anxiety was significantly associated with problematic smartphone use and sleep disturbance among medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Problematic smartphone use not only directly affected anxiety, but also exerted a significant indirect effect on anxiety via sleep disturbance. A significant decrease of the path coefficient of problematic smartphone use on anxiety (from β=0.53 to β=0.22, P<0.01) was observed with sleep disturbance being modeled as a mediator. Limitations: Limitations include its cross-sectional design and samples recruited from only one medical school. Conclusions: The detrimental impact of problematic smartphone use and the importance of sleep health on mitigating anxiety should be highlighted and incorporated into medical education.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health