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      COVID-19 anxiety symptoms associated with problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese adults


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          • General anxiety predicted COVID-19 anxiety severity.

          • COVID-19 anxiety was associated with problematic smartphone use (PSU) severity.

          • COVID-19 anxiety mediated relations between general anxiety and PSU severity.

          • Controlling for anxiety/depression, COVID-19 anxiety did not predict PSU severity.



          COVID-19 is fast-spreading and potentially fatal, introducing home quarantine, social distancing, and increased internet usage globally. We investigated COVID-19 anxiety, general anxiety and depression symptoms, and their impact on problematic smartphone use (PSU) severity


          Participants were 908 residents of a large Eastern Chinese city, surveyed from late-February to mid-March, 2020. We administered online measures including the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21, Smartphone Addiction Scale-Short Version, and items querying COVID-19-related news exposure and threat of death. Additionally, participants rated anxiety using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale-7 with reference to COVID-19.


          COVID-19 anxiety correlated with severity of PSU, depression and anxiety. Using established cut-off scores, 12% of participants were identified with at least moderate depression, and 24% with moderate anxiety. Using structural equation modeling, COVID-19 anxiety related to PSU severity, mediating relations between general anxiety and PSU severity. However, controlling PSU for general anxiety and depression severity, COVID-19 anxiety no longer predicted PSU severity.


          Limitations include the cross-sectional research design and reliance on data from only one country.


          Results are discussed in context of the I-PACE model of excessive internet use. While COVID-19 anxiety is likely a global anxiety-provoking event, other everyday worries and anxiety are additionally clinically important in driving excessive internet use.

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          Most cited references37

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          Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia

          Abstract Background The initial cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)–infected pneumonia (NCIP) occurred in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019 and January 2020. We analyzed data on the first 425 confirmed cases in Wuhan to determine the epidemiologic characteristics of NCIP. Methods We collected information on demographic characteristics, exposure history, and illness timelines of laboratory-confirmed cases of NCIP that had been reported by January 22, 2020. We described characteristics of the cases and estimated the key epidemiologic time-delay distributions. In the early period of exponential growth, we estimated the epidemic doubling time and the basic reproductive number. Results Among the first 425 patients with confirmed NCIP, the median age was 59 years and 56% were male. The majority of cases (55%) with onset before January 1, 2020, were linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, as compared with 8.6% of the subsequent cases. The mean incubation period was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.1 to 7.0), with the 95th percentile of the distribution at 12.5 days. In its early stages, the epidemic doubled in size every 7.4 days. With a mean serial interval of 7.5 days (95% CI, 5.3 to 19), the basic reproductive number was estimated to be 2.2 (95% CI, 1.4 to 3.9). Conclusions On the basis of this information, there is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019. Considerable efforts to reduce transmission will be required to control outbreaks if similar dynamics apply elsewhere. Measures to prevent or reduce transmission should be implemented in populations at risk. (Funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and others.)
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            Is Open Access

            Immediate Psychological Responses and Associated Factors during the Initial Stage of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Epidemic among the General Population in China

            Background: The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic is a public health emergency of international concern and poses a challenge to psychological resilience. Research data are needed to develop evidence-driven strategies to reduce adverse psychological impacts and psychiatric symptoms during the epidemic. The aim of this study was to survey the general public in China to better understand their levels of psychological impact, anxiety, depression, and stress during the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak. The data will be used for future reference. Methods: From 31 January to 2 February 2020, we conducted an online survey using snowball sampling techniques. The online survey collected information on demographic data, physical symptoms in the past 14 days, contact history with COVID-19, knowledge and concerns about COVID-19, precautionary measures against COVID-19, and additional information required with respect to COVID-19. Psychological impact was assessed by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), and mental health status was assessed by the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21). Results: This study included 1210 respondents from 194 cities in China. In total, 53.8% of respondents rated the psychological impact of the outbreak as moderate or severe; 16.5% reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms; 28.8% reported moderate to severe anxiety symptoms; and 8.1% reported moderate to severe stress levels. Most respondents spent 20–24 h per day at home (84.7%); were worried about their family members contracting COVID-19 (75.2%); and were satisfied with the amount of health information available (75.1%). Female gender, student status, specific physical symptoms (e.g., myalgia, dizziness, coryza), and poor self-rated health status were significantly associated with a greater psychological impact of the outbreak and higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression (p < 0.05). Specific up-to-date and accurate health information (e.g., treatment, local outbreak situation) and particular precautionary measures (e.g., hand hygiene, wearing a mask) were associated with a lower psychological impact of the outbreak and lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression (p < 0.05). Conclusions: During the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, more than half of the respondents rated the psychological impact as moderate-to-severe, and about one-third reported moderate-to-severe anxiety. Our findings identify factors associated with a lower level of psychological impact and better mental health status that can be used to formulate psychological interventions to improve the mental health of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 epidemic.
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              The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China

              Highlights • Methods of guiding students to effectively and appropriately regulate their emotions during public health emergencies and avoid losses caused by crisis events have become an urgent problem for colleges and universities. Therefore, we investigated and analyzed the mental health status of college students during the epidemic for the following purposes. (1) To evaluate the mental situation of college students during the epidemic; (2) to provide a theoretical basis for psychological interventions with college students; and (3) to provide a basis for the promulgation of national and governmental policies.

                Author and article information

                J Affect Disord
                J Affect Disord
                Journal of Affective Disorders
                Elsevier B.V.
                27 May 2020
                27 May 2020
                [a ]cademy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, No. 57-1 Wujiayao Street, Hexi District, Tianjin, 300074, China
                [b ]Department of Psychology, University of Toledo, 2801 West Bancroft Street, Toledo, Ohio, 43606, USA
                [c ]Department of Psychiatry, University of Toledo, 3000 Arlington Avenue, Toledo, Ohio, 43614, USA
                [d ]Department of Psychology, Fordham University, 441 East Fordham Road, Bronx, New York, 10458, USA
                [e ]Anxiety and illness Behaviors Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Regina, 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK, S4S0A2, Canada
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding Author. jonelhai@ 123456gmail.com
                [** ]Corresponding Author. Tel.: +86-22-2376-6570 (office phone); Fax.: +86-22-2354-0063 (office fax) yanghaibo@ 123456tjnu.edu.cn
                © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.


                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                covid-19,pandemics,smartphone addiction,anxiety,depression
                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                covid-19, pandemics, smartphone addiction, anxiety, depression


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