Assessing Efficacy of a COVID-19 Stress Management Intervention

student looking sad with head leaning on hand

Many University students are likely to be under significant stress as they adjust to the life disruptions caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic, including health concerns and isolation. Yet, even prior to the pandemic, campus mental health resources were stretched beyond capacity.

Led by Patricia Frazier, PhD, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Department of Psychology, this study will evaluate if web-based interventions provide a scalable way to teach evidence-based coping skills.

“We developed a web-based stress management intervention in 2011, and have published eight studies documenting its efficacy among more than 2,000 students,” said Frazier. “The intervention results in small to moderate reductions in stress, depression, and anxiety on average relative to comparison groups.”

The intervention involves watching brief psychoeducational videos and completing exercises online. Approximately 400 psychology students are participating in this study to assess whether this intervention is effective for reducing stress and improving student mental health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If our intervention is effective it can be disseminated broadly to University of Minnesota students,” said Frazier. “Although a lot of stress management information currently is being disseminated, much of it is not being evaluated in terms of its effectiveness in actually reducing stress.

The study co-investigators are Liza Meredith, PhD, faculty member in Psychology, and Viann Nguyen-Feng, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota Duluth.

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.