Fall Expo 2021
From Bella Rector
107- Health Sciences and Health Professions- Isabella Rector, Kaylan Bowman, Elisabeth Edwards, Erin Ussery, Ariana Ramos
Faculty Mentor: Ana Oliveira, Jie Gao
Presentation Title: Increased Cortisol Level Research Conducted During The COVID-19 Pandemic In Undergraduate Students of UAB
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with increased stress, depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. The effects of stress that students may experience due to safety measures and exposure to potential contaminants on campus lacks investigation. After obtaining informed consent, the stress levels of 49 undergraduate students were compared over two semesters (fall 2020; spring 2021) through a survey containing the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and the measurement of salivary cortisol by ELISA. Additional questions regarding demographics, instruction method, and stress indicators were included in the survey. The majority of participants were juniors (71.43%), enrolled in hybrid classes (81.63% had classes in-person/online format). A 1.5 mL saliva sample was collected between 12-3pm and cortisol levels, a biomarker of stress, were measured via ELISA using commercially available test kits. The perceived stress and the cortisol levels were compared over the two semesters to identify the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on undergraduate students’ stress levels. The average cortisol levels and perceived stress from fall of 2020 respectively was 2.02 (SD 2.1) and 20 (SD 6.51), and 1.49 (SD 1.2) and 20 (SD 5.33) for spring of 2021. A paired t-test will be used to compare the averages of the cortisol levels over the consecutive semesters. More statistical analyses will be performed to identify contributing factors to student stress during COVID-19, which may provide insight for interventions that could improve student mental health.