The Impact of Positive Youth Development Attributes on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms Among Chinese Adolescents Under COVID-19

Daniel T.L. Shek, Li Zhao, Diya Dou, Xiaoqin Zhu, Chenghan Xiao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study examined the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among adolescents in mainland China under COVID-19. The direct effects of the perceived threat of COVID-19 and positive youth development (PYD) qualities, as well as the moderating effect of PYD qualities on PTSD symptoms, were studied. Methods: Five schools in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, participated in this study. Two waves of data were collected before school lockdown (Wave 1, between December 2019 and January 2020) and after school resumption (Wave 2, between June 2020 and July 2020), respectively. A total of 4,981 adolescents aged above 11 years (Mean age = 13.15, SD = 1.32 at Wave 1, 51.5% girls) completed questionnaires at both waves. Students responded to measures of PYD qualities at both waves and perceived threat and PTSD symptoms at Wave 2. Results: A total of 517 adolescents (10.4%) could be regarded as having PTSD. Results indicated significant unique main effects of perceived threat (β = .13, p < .001) and Wave 1 PYD qualities (β = −.16, p < .001) on PTSD symptoms. Besides, results showed a significant moderating effect of PYD qualities in mitigating the negative impact of perceived threat on PTSD symptoms. Conclusions: This study revealed the protective effect of PYD attributes in reducing the negative influence of traumatic situations such as COVID-19 on adolescent mental health. Results underscore the importance of promoting PYD qualities in adolescents in mainland China via effective PYD programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-682
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Adolescents
  • China
  • COVID-19
  • Perceived threat
  • Positive youth development
  • PTSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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