The diverse psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic

The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic sparked a series of nationwide lockdowns that disrupted the daily lives of people worldwide. For example, a significant number of employees and students had to quickly switch to remote work, while most people also restricted their social activities, increasing their social isolation from others.

Study: The good, the bad, and the mixed: experiences during COVID-19 among an online sample of adults. Image credit: eugenegurkov/Shutterstock.com

Negative Effects of COVID-19

Several studies have highlighted the negative psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, no analysis has been performed of both the negative and positive experiences during the early stages of the pandemic, their differences as a function of COVID-19-specific stressful events and their concomitant occurrence.

Most studies of the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have focused on its negative effects, particularly on mental disorders, increased concerns about the health of loved ones, psychological harm, loss of health and leisure activities. The COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbated inequalities that already existed among disadvantaged groups, including those facing socioeconomic disadvantages, ethnic minority groups and the unemployed.

Several previous studies have also pointed to the deterioration of mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic among those who already had mental health disorders. Social isolation is identified as a prominent factor that has contributed to negative COVID-19 experiences.

However, a limited number of studies have examined the positive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the general population. Nevertheless, few studies indicated an increase in well-being and a decrease in anxiety in people with pre-existing mental illness.

Social connectedness, along with healthy coping and resilience themes, has also been reported in people, including those who identify with disadvantaged groups. Other positive experiences that have been reported include having more time to do fun activities, being in nature, spending time with partners, and playing sports.

About the study

a new PLOS One study examined the different experiences encountered by the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the association of COVID-19-specific stressful events with these experiences.

The present study had three objectives, including to examine factors that could measure positive and negative COVID-19 experiences, to use a person-centred approach to identify underlying profiles of these experiences, as well as to compare emerging profiles with respect to differences. in psychological distress, demographic information and specific stressful events for better understanding.

The study involved participants who anonymously completed an online survey that was posted to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTURK) and was open from June 8, 2020 to June 14, 2020. Seven items were created to assess the participants’ experiences during the early months. to decide. of the pandemic.

These items were rated on a six-point scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (6), and each followed the prompt: “Compared to months before COVID-19 . . .” Data on demographic and specific COVID-19 events were collected from all study participants.

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) was used to measure stress in the past month and was scored from Never (0) to Very often (4). Depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ2), while anxiety was measured using the General Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD2). Both the responses to depression and anxiety ranged from Not at all (0) to Almost every day (3).

Study findings

The study selected the four-profile model, with the “Predominantly Positive” profile indicating those who supported strong positive COVID-19 experiences, the “Medium Mixed” profile indicating those who supported both negative and positive COVID-19 experiences, the ” Predominantly Negative” profile indicated those strongly in favor of negative COVID-19 experiences, and the “Highly Mixed” profile indicated those strongly in favor of both negative and positive COVID-19 experiences.

All told, 22.49% of the participants were identified as “mostly positive”, 46.85% as “moderately mixed”, 22.76% as “mostly negative”, and 7.91% as “highly mixed”. Men were overrepresented in the “Highly Mixed” and “Moderately Mixed” profiles, while women were overrepresented in the “Predominantly Negative” profiles.

African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino were overrepresented in the High Mixed profile. Job seekers or layoffs were overrepresented in the “Moderately Mixed” profile, while those who were disabled, retired or unable to work before COVID-19 were overrepresented in the “Predominantly Negative” and “Predominantly Positive” profiles.

Low earners were overrepresented in the ‘Mostly negative’ profiles, while high earners were overrepresented in the ‘Mostly positive’ profiles. Average and below average incomes were overrepresented in the ‘High mixed’ profile.

Individuals belonging to the “High Mixed” profile were younger and had mental health problems. A significant proportion of those in the ‘High Mix’ profile also had lost wages, were self-diagnosed with COVID-19 or knew someone with COVID-19, and knew someone who died as a result of COVID-19.

conclusions

The current study emphasizes that the experiences during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be unilaterally defined as negative or positive, as many of these experiences were highly diverse and complex.

These findings help identify which individuals were most at risk of adverse psychological effects during the pandemic and can then be used for clinical and research purposes. However, additional research is needed to develop targeted intervention and prevention programs to increase individuals’ resilience, both during and after the current pandemic.

Limits

The study has certain limitations. First, the cross-sectional design of the study was not sufficient to establish positive and negative COVID-19 experiences. Second, the psychological stress was self-reported and may be a memory bias.

Third, the sample is not evenly distributed as it is mainly composed of white or white individuals. A final limitation is significant doubt about the accuracy of the sample.

Reference magazine:

  • Mills, DJ, Petrovic, J., Mettler, J., et al† (2022). The good, the bad and the mixed: experiences during COVID-19 among an online sample of adults. PLOS Onedoi:10.1371/journal.pone.0269382

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