Academic self-efficacy as a protective factor for the mental health of university students during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Nayeli Lucía Ampuero-Tello Círculo de Investigación en Psicología, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Lima, Lima, Peru.
  • Angel Christopher Zegarra-López Círculo de Investigación en Psicología, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Lima, Lima, Peru; Grupo de Investigación en Psicología, Bienestar y Sociedad, Instituto de Investigación Científica, Universidad de Lima, Lima, Peru.
  • Dharma Ariana Padilla-López Círculo de Investigación en Psicología, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Lima, Lima, Peru.
  • Dafne Silvana Venturo-Pimentel Círculo de Investigación en Psicología, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Lima, Lima, Peru.
Keywords: Self Efficacy, Mental health, Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Higher Education, University students, COVID-19


Background: University students are vulnerable to developing mental health problems due to constant exposure to academic demands. A situation that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and observed in several recent studies. Therefore, current practices require further research and identification of potentially protective factors for mental health. Objective: This study aimed to analyze academic self-efficacy as a protective factor against depression, anxiety, and stress in university students. Methods: A cross-sectional design was used with 3525 university students from Lima, Peru. The prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress was measured using the DASS-21. Academic self-efficacy was measured with the EPAESA and defined as a predictor of the three mental health conditions. Structural equation modeling was used to test the model, together with a multigroup analysis for gender and working status. Results: One-third of the sample had severe to extremely severe symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Academic self-efficacy was a moderately statistically significant predictor of the three mental health conditions. Relationships were invariant to gender and working status. Conclusions: Self-efficacy can be considered a protective factor for mental health. Interventions to promote academic self-efficacy may be effective in reducing depression, anxiety, and stress in university students. The findings are discussed together with current studies on the topic.


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How to Cite
Ampuero-Tello, N., Zegarra-López, A., Padilla-López, D., & Venturo-Pimentel, D. (2022). Academic self-efficacy as a protective factor for the mental health of university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interacciones, 8, e289.
Original paper