Prevalence of Internet Addiction Disorder and Its Correlates Among Clinically Stable Adolescents With Psychiatric Disorders in China During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Zong Lei Li, Rui Liu, Fan He, Shu Ying Li, Yan Jie Zhao, Wu Yang Zhang, Yao Zhang, Teris Cheung, Todd Jackson, Yi Lang Tang, Yu Tao Xiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: Since the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic emerged, Internet usage has increased among adolescents. Due to this trend, the prevalence of Internet addiction disorder (IAD) may have increased within this group. This study examined the prevalence of IAD and its correlates among clinically stable adolescents with psychiatric disorders in China during the COVID-19 outbreak. Method: A multi-center, cross-sectional study was carried out between April 29 and June 9, 2020 in three major tertiary mental health centers in China. IAD and depressive symptoms were assessed using the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), respectively. Results: A total of 1,454 adolescent psychiatric patients were included in final analyses. The prevalence of IAD was 31.2% (95% CI: 28.8–33.6%) during the COVID-19 pandemic. A multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that poor relationships with parents (P < 0.001, OR = 2.34, 95%CI: 1.49–3.68) and elevated total PHQ-9 scores (P < 0.001, OR = 1.19, 95%CI: 1.16–1.21) were significantly associated with higher risk for IAD while longer daily physical exercise durations (P = 0.04, OR = 0.67, 95%CI: 0.46–0.98) and rural residence (P = 0.003, OR = 0.62, 95%CI: 0.46–0.85) were significant correlates of lower risk for IAD. Conclusions: IAD was common among adolescent patients with clinically stable psychiatric disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic; regular physical exercise, healthy relationships with parents and fewer symptoms of depression were associated with lower risk within this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number686177
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2021


  • adolescent patients
  • Chinese
  • COVID-19
  • internet addiction
  • psychiatric disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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