Background: Global pandemic COVID-19 has strongly affected all areas of life, particularly physical and mental health, as well as professional and economic status. This research aims to examine exposure to COVID-19 in areas of health, professional and economic status among university students in six European countries.
Methods: Cross-sectional study was conducted in a total sample of 1685 university students in European countries: Russia (n = 285, 17%), Germany (n = 270, 16%), Ukraine (n = 310, 18%), Poland (n = 301, 18%), Slovenia (n = 209, 13%), and Czech Republic (n = 310, 18%), including a total of 1160 (69%) female students.
Results: Overall, 10% of European university students experienced COVID-19 symptoms and observed infection among family, while 4% were tested, 6% were in strict quarantine, but a few individuals (0.2%) have been hospitalized. Nearly 1.5% of European university students experienced death among friends and family due to COVID-19. Over 22% of participants reported losing a job, and 44% declared deterioration of economic status due to a pandemic. German and Russian university students experienced significantly more COVID-19 symptoms, reported a higher prevalence of strict 14-days quarantine and infected friends and relatives. Russian participants were tested for COVID-19 the most frequently. They experienced the highest number of death cases within the family due to a pandemic. In contrast, in Poland and the Czech Republic, there were no death cases in students’ families. The highest percentage of university students or their families losing a job was observed in Poland and Ukraine, whereas the lowest in the Czech Republic.
Conclusions: There are significant differences in exposure to COVID-19 between university students from distinct European countries. The knowledge about exposure to coronavirus may help to explain mental health issues among university students and to develop prevention programs at universities.