OCTOBER 27, 2021 — A recent study led by psychologist James Bray, a UTSA professor in the College for Health, Community and Policy, highlights the role family plays in a college student’s response to COVID-19 pandemic-related stresses.
Bray and his team revealed that participants who had a close relationship with their parents experienced more positive COVID-19 pandemic-related changes in their relationships with family and friends, and had higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than their peers.
The study also showed that having a healthier relationship with parents resulted in less COVID-19 pandemic-related stress and reduced alcohol use.
The results suggest that family health practitioners should promote these intergenerational qualities in families, which in turn should increase positive psychosocial and health outcomes in the context of a pandemic.
The generational effects on family relationships and individual behavior also suggests that dysfunctional relationship patterns in one's family of origin contribute to greater stress and to poorer health outcomes.
By the same token, positive relationships between young adults and their parents can buffer some of the damage to health and happiness caused by the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought unique stresses and, for many, possible changes to the dynamics of their relationships with family and friends,” Bray said.
The research team utilized a sample of 500 young adults at a large university in Texas to analyze changes in relationship qualities and the impact those changes had on a participant’s substance use and their overall life satisfaction.
Participants were undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 25 years old who were enrolled in psychology courses and had participated in a larger online study about college student health happiness and COVID-related stress for course credit in April 2020. Bray and the research team examined how these patterns emerged for young adults in college during the pandemic.
“Many students moved home because of COVID,” Bray said. “Given the rapid changes required to cope with the pandemic, it was important to understand how family relationships helped students adjust to these changes.”
UTSA is an urban serving research university that is committed to tackling society’s grand challenges. Its academic and research specialties include health, cybersecurity, fundamental futures and social-economic transformation.
The Racial Justice Book Club was established at UTSA by members of the campus community to explore social justice following acts of racial violence across the nation over the last few years. We are reading The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas by Monica Muñoz Martinez. We will meet every Wednesday in September and October at 2 pm on Zoom.Virtual Event
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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.