Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Science and Human Ecology

First Reader/Committee Chair

Becerra, Monideepa


Background: The COVID-19 Pandemic called individuals to stay at home which may have impacted individuals to become not only physically, but socially isolated as well. With social isolation, comes an increase in mental health complications which may lead to an increase in substance use. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential association between COVID-19 social isolation and substance use among college students.

Method: The present study’s data was collected from a public, four-year university located in Southern California. The survey was disseminated through instructors at the university and students were incentivized with extra course credit to participate. Highlights of the study population include: 66% Hispanic and 58% considered to be low-income recipients. All study participants were given an informed consent form and those who agreed to participate were given a virtual survey to complete via Qualtrics. In addition, all data collected was kept anonymous and a random sample was used to conduct analyses to ensure no participant of the study was identifiable. Data analyses consisted of the utilization of descriptive and bivariate statistics; SPSS Version 28 was used to analyze the data and 0.05 was used to show statistical significance.

Results: this study displayed that approximately 21% of the study participants reported having a worse physical health status due to COVID-19 related isolation. In addition, about 27% of the study population also reported having a worse mental health status due to COVID-19 related isolation. Around 24% of the study population classified their mental health as being poor or very poor. Furthermore, because of COVID-19 related isolation, 9.4% of study participants reported drinking more and 7.3% of study participants reported using more tobacco. Consequently, statistical significance was identified between drinking more due to COVID-19 and mental health status. Statistical significance was also found between increase of drinking and tobacco habits, suggesting that participants who engaged more in substance use, did so in multiple types of substances.

Conclusion: Results emphasize the importance of addressing mental health complications and substance among college students during the COVID-19 pandemic.