Fear of COVID-19 continues to impact adversely on psychological wellbeing

Newswise – Research by psychologists from Swansea University’s School of Psychology found that people’s fear of COVID-19 has led to worsening mental health. The study just published in Journal of Health Psychologyalso found that older participants and those from minority ethnic groups were most likely to be afraid of COVID-19.

Researchers examined the impact of COVID-19 anxiety on key aspects of mental well-being using an online survey of the same sample of participants at two different times during the pandemic.

The first point in time was in February 2021, when daily death rates and hospitalizations were at their highest (so far) and vaccination rates low during the pandemic. At this point, fear of COVID-19 predicted higher levels of anxiety, depression, worry, loneliness, trouble sleeping, and problems coping with insecurity

The second time point occurred in June 2021, when daily death rates and hospitalizations had decreased significantly and many participants had received two vaccinations. At this second point, the fear of COVID-19 had decreased; However, fear of the virus still predicted higher levels of worry, trouble sleeping, and problems dealing with unsafe situations.

This is how the effects of COVID-19 evolved and affected different aspects of well-being in the same sample of participants.

dr Martyn Quigley, lecturer in psychology at Swansea University, who led the study, said:

“This research demonstrates the significant toll the pandemic is taking on the mental well-being of many people, particularly during the most difficult times during the pandemic. What is particularly striking, however, is that fear of COVID-19 continued to impact people’s well-being even as circumstances appeared to have improved significantly, demonstrating the long-term impact of the pandemic on well-being.”

The research was conducted as part of a project funded by the Welsh Government (Ser-Cymru) examining the impact of COVID-19 on mental well-being. In addition to conducting survey-based studies, researchers conducted online experiments adapted to tasks regularly used in the laboratory to provide behavioral performance markers for mental health coping as we emerge from the pandemic.

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Notes for editors:

The article, entitled Longitudinal assessment of COVID-19 anxiety and mental well-being in the UK, is available here: https://doi.org/10.1177/13591053221134848

Swansea University is a world-class, research-based, dual-campus university that offers a world-class student experience and has one of the best graduate employability rates in the UK. The university has the highest possible rating for teaching – a gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2018 – and has been commended for its high proportion of students who consistently achieve excellent results.

Swansea climbed 14 spots to 31st in the 2019 Guardian University Guide, making us the highest ranked university in Wales, with one of the best success rates of graduates finding employment in the UK and the same overall satisfaction level as the number 1 university .

The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF) 2014 showed that Swansea made the “biggest leap among research intensive institutions” in the UK (Times Higher Education, December 2014) and achieved its ambition to become one of the top 30 research universities and rise in the league table to 26th place in Great Britain.

The university is ranked among the top 300 universities in the world and was ranked in the 251-300 group in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Swansea University now has 23 main partners awarding joint degrees and postgraduate qualifications.

Founded in 1920, the university was the first campus university in Britain. It currently offers around 350 undergraduate and 350 postgraduate courses for around 20,000 students and postgraduates. The university has ambitious expansion plans for its centenary in 2020 and aspires to further expand its global reach and realize its national and international potential.

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Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit www.swansea.ac.uk