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      Adolescents’ Motivations to Engage in Social Distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Associations with Mental and Social Health

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          Abstract

          Purpose

          Reducing the spread of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted recommendations for individuals to socially distance. Little is known about the extent to which youth are socially distancing, what motivations underlie their social distancing, and how these motivations are connected with amount of social distancing, mental health, and social health. Using a large sample of adolescents from across the US, this study examined adolescents’ motivations for social distancing, their engagement in social distancing, and their mental and social health.

          Methods

          Data were collected March 29 th and 30 th 2020, two-weeks after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in the US. The sample consisted of 683 adolescents recruited using social media. A series of multiple linear regressions examined unique associations among adolescents’ motivations to engage in social distancing, perceived amount of social distancing, anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, burdensomeness, and belongingness.

          Results

          Almost all respondents (98.1%) reported engaging in at least a little social distancing. The most commonly reported motivations for social distancing concerned social responsibility and not wanting others to get sick. Motivations concerning state or city lockdowns, parental rules, and social responsibility were associated with greater social distancing, whereas motivations concerning no alternatives were associated with less social distancing. Specific motivations for social distancing were differentially associated with adolescents’ anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, burdensomeness, and belongingness.

          Conclusions

          Understanding adolescents’ motivations to engage in social distancing may inform strategies to increase social distancing engagement, reduce pathogen transmission, and identify individual differences in mental and social health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health.

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            Children's perceptions of the personal relationships in their social networks.

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              Prevalence, persistence, and sociodemographic correlates of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement.

              Community epidemiological data on the prevalence and correlates of adolescent mental disorders are needed for policy planning purposes. Only limited data of this sort are available. To present estimates of 12-month and 30-day prevalence, persistence (12-month prevalence among lifetime cases and 30-day prevalence among 12-month cases), and sociodemographic correlates of commonly occurring DSM-IV disorders among adolescents in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement. The National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement is a US national survey of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavior, and substance disorders among US adolescents based on face-to-face interviews in the homes of respondents with supplemental parent questionnaires. Dual-frame household and school samples of US adolescents. A total of 10,148 adolescents aged 13 to 17 years (interviews) and 1 parent of each adolescent (questionnaires). The DSM-IV disorders assessed with the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview and validated with blinded clinical interviews based on the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children. Good concordance (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve ≥0.80) was found between Composite International Diagnostic Interview and Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children diagnoses. The prevalence estimates of any DSM-IV disorder are 40.3% at 12 months (79.5% of lifetime cases) and 23.4% at 30 days (57.9% of 12-month cases). Anxiety disorders are the most common class of disorders, followed by behavior, mood, and substance disorders. Although relative disorder prevalence is quite stable over time, 30-day to 12-month prevalence ratios are higher for anxiety and behavior disorders than mood or substance disorders, suggesting that the former are more chronic than the latter. The 30-day to 12-month prevalence ratios are generally lower than the 12-month to lifetime ratios, suggesting that disorder persistence is due more to episode recurrence than to chronicity. Sociodemographic correlates are largely consistent with previous studies. Among US adolescents, DSM-IV disorders are highly prevalent and persistent. Persistence is higher for adolescents than among adults and appears to be due more to recurrence than chronicity of child-adolescent onset disorders.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Adolesc Health
                J Adolesc Health
                The Journal of Adolescent Health
                Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.
                1054-139X
                1879-1972
                8 May 2020
                8 May 2020
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173440 Bozeman, MT 59717-3440
                [2 ]Department of Psychology, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6040 Morganton, WV, 26506
                [3 ]School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, 231 Glenbrook Rd., Unit 4026, Storrs, CT 06269
                Author notes
                []Address correspondence to: Benjamin Oosterhoff Department of Psychology Montana State University P.O. Box 173440 Bozeman, MT 59717-3440 USA Phone: 517-897-4160 Benjamin.oosterhoff@ 123456montana.edu
                Article
                S1054-139X(20)30221-4
                10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.05.004
                7205689
                © 2020 Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

                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.

                Categories
                Article

                Health & Social care

                burdensomeness, social distancing, motivation, depression, anxiety, belongingness, covid-19

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