North Carolina State University

Knowledge is Power: Learning More About COVID-19 Can Reduce Your Pandemic Stress

Newswise — A new study from North Carolina State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology finds that the more people know about COVID-19, the less pandemic-related stress they have. The study also found that making plans to reduce stress was also effective for older adults – but not for adults in their 40s or younger.

“COVID-19 is a new disease – it’s not something that people worried about before,” says Shevaun Neupert, a professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of the study. “So we wanted to see how people were responding to, and coping with, this new source of stress.”

To that end, researchers surveyed 515 adults from across the United States. The adults ranged in age from 20-79. The cohort of study participants had an average age of just under 40, and 46 of them were more than 60 years old. The surveys were conducted between March 20 and April 19, 2020.

One part of the survey was a 29-item quiz designed to assess how much study participants knew about COVID-19. Coupled with other elements of the survey, this let researchers assess whether an understanding of COVID-19 made people feel more stress or less.

“We found that knowledge is power,” Neupert says. “The more factual information people knew about COVID-19, the less stress they had. That was true across age groups.

“Knowledge reduces uncertainty, and uncertainty can be very stressful,” Neupert says. “Although speculative, it is likely that knowledge about this new virus reduced uncertainty, which in turn reduced feelings of pandemic stress.”

The researchers went into the study thinking older adults would likely experience more stress related to COVID-19, because the disease was portrayed as particularly dangerous to seniors. But they found that pandemic-related stress levels were the same for all age groups.

“The strongest predictor of stress was concern about getting COVID-19, which isn’t surprising,” says Neupert. “And the older people were, the more pronounced this effect was.”

But older adults also had an advantage: pro-active coping. The use of proactive coping – or making plans to reduce the likelihood of stress – reduced stress in adults over the age of 52. It had no effect for younger adults.

“These results suggest that everyone can benefit from staying engaged with factual information that will increase knowledge about COVID-19,” Neupert says. “In addition, older adults who are able to use proactive coping, such as trying to prepare for adverse events, could decrease their pandemic stress.”

The paper, “Age Differences in Risk and Resilience Factors in COVID-19-Related Stress,” is published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences. Corresponding author of the paper is Ann Pearman at Georgia Tech. The paper was co-authored by MacKenzie Hughes of Georgia Tech and Emily Smith, a recent Ph.D. graduate at NC State. The work was done with financial support from the College of Science and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research at Georgia Tech.

-shipman-

Note to Editors: The study abstract follows.

“Age Differences in Risk and Resilience Factors in COVID-19-Related Stress”

Authors: Ann Pearman and MacKenzie L. Hughes, Georgia Institute of Technology; and Emily L. Smith and Shevaun D. Neupert, North Carolina State University

Published: Aug. 3, 2020, Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences

DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbaa120/5879986

Abstract:
Objectives: Older adults are at higher risk for death and infirmity from COVID-19 than younger and middle-age adults. The current study examines COVID-19-specific anxiety and proactive coping as potential risk and resilience factors that may be differentially important for younger and older adults in predicting stress experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Method: Five hundred and fifteen adults aged 20-79 in the U.S. reported on their anxiety about developing COVID-19, proactive coping, and stress related to COVID-19 in an online survey.
Results: Although there were no age differences in stress levels, anxiety about developing COVID-19 was associated with more COVID-19 stress for older adults relative to younger adults, but proactive coping was associated with less COVID-19 stress for older adults relative to younger adults.
Discussion: Our results suggest that anxiety might function as a risk factor whereas proactive coping may function as a resilience factor for older adults’ COVID-19 stress. We encourage future context-dependent investigations into mental health among older adults during this pandemic and beyond.

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 4573
Released: 15-Jan-2021 5:40 PM EST
Research Links Social Isolation to COVID-19 Protocol Resistance
Humboldt State University

As health officials continue to implore the public to wear masks and practice social distancing, recent research by Humboldt State University Psychology Professor Amber Gaffney provides key insights into connections between social isolation, conspiratorial thinking, and resistance to COVID-19 protocols.

Newswise: Rapid blood test identifies COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe disease
Released: 15-Jan-2021 5:35 PM EST
Rapid blood test identifies COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe disease
Washington University in St. Louis

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that a relatively simple and rapid blood test can predict which patients with COVID-19 are at highest risk of severe complications or death. The blood test measures levels of mitochondrial DNA, which normally resides inside the energy factories of cells. Mitochondrial DNA spilling out of cells and into the bloodstream is a sign that a particular type of violent cell death is taking place in the body.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 2:55 PM EST
COVID-19 deaths really are different. But best practices for ICU care should still apply, studies suggest.
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

COVID-19 deaths are indeed different from other lung failure deaths, according to two recent studies, with 56% of COVID-19 patients dying primarily from the lung damage caused by the virus, compared with 22% of those whose lungs fail due to other causes. But, the researchers conclude, the kind of care needed to help sustain people through the worst cases of all forms of lung failure is highly similar, and just needs to be fine-tuned.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 2:50 PM EST
45% of adults over 65 lack online medical accounts that could help them sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

As the vaccination of older adults against COVID-19 begins across the country, new poll data suggests that many of them don’t yet have access to the “patient portal” online systems that could make it much easier for them to schedule a vaccination appointment. In all, 45% of adults aged 65 to 80 had not set up an account with their health provider’s portal system.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 1:30 PM EST
New England Journal of Medicine publishes COVID-19 treatment trial results
University of Texas at San Antonio

A clinical trial involving COVID-19 patients hospitalized at UT Health San Antonio and University Health, among roughly 100 sites globally, found that a combination of the drugs baricitinib and remdesivir reduced time to recovery, according to results published Dec. 11 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 12:40 PM EST
DNA test can quickly identify pneumonia in patients with severe COVID-19, aiding faster treatment
University of Cambridge

Researchers have developed a DNA test to quickly identify secondary infections in COVID-19 patients, who have double the risk of developing pneumonia while on ventilation than non-COVID-19 patients.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 12:30 PM EST
Fight CRC To Present Research Findings on The Impact of COVID-19 on the Colorectal Cancer Community at 2021 GI ASCO
Fight Colorectal Cancer

Fight Colorectal Cancer presents abstract at Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium highlighting the need to address the barriers and opportunities for care within the colorectal cancer community during the COVID-19 pandemic

Released: 15-Jan-2021 12:25 PM EST
Technion to Award Honorary Doctorate to Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla
American Technion Society

Israel's Technion will award an honorary doctorate to Pfizer CEO and Chairman Dr. Albert Bourla, for leading the development of the novel vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The honorary doctorate will be conferred at the Technion Board of Governors meeting in November 2021.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 11:30 AM EST
UW researchers develop tool to equitably distribute limited vaccines
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health have developed a tool that incorporates a person’s age and socioeconomic status to prioritize vaccine distribution among people who otherwise share similar risks due to their jobs.


Showing results

110 of 4573

close
1.00788