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      COVID-19: Psychological Flexibility, Coping, Mental Health, and Wellbeing in the UK during the pandemic

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          Abstract

          The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered the daily lives of many people across the globe, both through the direct interpersonal cost of the disease, and the governmental restrictions imposed to mitigate its spread and impact. The UK has been particularly affected and has one of the highest mortality rates in Europe. In this paper, we examine the impact of COVID-19 on psychological health and well-being in the UK during a period of ‘lockdown’ (15 th–21 st May 2020) and the specific role of Psychological Flexibility as a potential mitigating process.

          We observed clinically high levels of distress in our sample (N=555). However, psychological flexibility was significantly and positively associated with greater wellbeing, and inversely related to anxiety, depression, and COVID-19-related distress. Avoidant coping behaviour was positively associated with all indices of distress and negatively associated with wellbeing, while engagement in approach coping only demonstrated weaker associations with outcomes of interest. No relationship between adherence to government guidelines and psychological flexibility was found.

          In planned regression models, psychological flexibility demonstrated incremental predictive validity for all distress and wellbeing outcomes (over and above both demographic characteristics and COVID-19-specific coping responses). Furthermore, psychological flexibility and COVID-19 outcomes were only part-mediated by coping responses to COVID-19, supporting the position that psychological flexibility can be understood as an overarching response style that is distinct from established conceptualisations of coping. We conclude that psychological flexibility represents a promising candidate process for understanding and predicting how an individual may be affected by, and cope with, both the acute and longer-term challenges of the pandemic.

          Highlights

          • Our UK population sample report high levels of COVID-19 distress.

          • Psychological flexibility likely accounts for variance in wellbeing and distress.

          • Adherent social distancing was not related to psychological flexibility.

          • Psychological flexibility disposes adaptive COVID-19 coping responses.

          • Coping responses may part-mediate associations with psychological flexibility.

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          Most cited references 30

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          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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            Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: a call for action for mental health science

            Summary The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is having a profound effect on all aspects of society, including mental health and physical health. We explore the psychological, social, and neuroscientific effects of COVID-19 and set out the immediate priorities and longer-term strategies for mental health science research. These priorities were informed by surveys of the public and an expert panel convened by the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the mental health research charity, MQ: Transforming Mental Health, in the first weeks of the pandemic in the UK in March, 2020. We urge UK research funding agencies to work with researchers, people with lived experience, and others to establish a high level coordination group to ensure that these research priorities are addressed, and to allow new ones to be identified over time. The need to maintain high-quality research standards is imperative. International collaboration and a global perspective will be beneficial. An immediate priority is collecting high-quality data on the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the whole population and vulnerable groups, and on brain function, cognition, and mental health of patients with COVID-19. There is an urgent need for research to address how mental health consequences for vulnerable groups can be mitigated under pandemic conditions, and on the impact of repeated media consumption and health messaging around COVID-19. Discovery, evaluation, and refinement of mechanistically driven interventions to address the psychological, social, and neuroscientific aspects of the pandemic are required. Rising to this challenge will require integration across disciplines and sectors, and should be done together with people with lived experience. New funding will be required to meet these priorities, and it can be efficiently leveraged by the UK's world-leading infrastructure. This Position Paper provides a strategy that may be both adapted for, and integrated with, research efforts in other countries.
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              COVID-19 and mental health: A review of the existing literature

              Highlights • Subsyndromal mental health concerns are a common response to the COVID-19 outbreak. • These responses affect both the general public and healthcare workers. • Depressive and anxiety symptoms have been reported in 16–28% of subjects screened. • Novel methods of consultation, such as online services, can be helpful for these patients. • There is a need for further long-term research in this area, especially from other countries
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Contextual Behav Sci
                J Contextual Behav Sci
                Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science
                Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. Published by Elsevier Inc.
                2212-1447
                2212-1455
                30 July 2020
                30 July 2020
                Affiliations
                University of Lincoln, School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Brayford Wharf East, Lincoln, UK LN5 7AY
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author. Email: nmoghaddam@ 123456lincoln.ac.uk
                Article
                S2212-1447(20)30165-4
                10.1016/j.jcbs.2020.07.010
                7392106
                © 2020 Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. Published by Elsevier Inc. 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.

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