Lockdown study reports surge in health anxieties

New research into people's coping strategies faced with COVID-19 highlights the mental health toll for those shielding
4-Aug-2020 7:05 PM EDT, by University of Bath

Newswise — New research into people's coping strategies faced with COVID-19 highlights the mental health toll for those shielding

Coronavirus and the imposition of lockdown this year 'significantly raised' mental health challenges, particularly so for the most vulnerable groups, including those shielding, according to the first study to look at people's coping styles in face of the pandemic.

The new research, published today [Tuesday 4 August 2020] in the journal American Psychologist, draws on survey responses from over 800 people recruited online and via social media who answered questions over a ten-day period when the UK was in full lockdown (from 17 - 26 April 2020).

The study from psychologists at the University of Bath is the first study to substantiate extensive media debate that health anxieties were heightened as a result of the pandemic, and it is also the first study to indicate that those in vulnerable groups are clinically more distressed as a result.

Results suggest that a quarter of all participants revealed significantly elevated anxiety and depression, exacerbated by lockdown and isolation. Nearly 15% reached clinical levels of health anxiety, which reflects that health-related anxiety has become distressing and is likely to be causing preoccupation and disruption to normal activities. Health anxiety focusses on the fear of having or contracting a serious illness despite medical reassurance.

Lead author, Dr Hannah Rettie from the University of Bath's Department of Psychology explains: "The COVID-19 pandemic has caused global uncertainty which has had a direct, detrimental effect on so many people across the UK and around the world. People have been unsure when they would see relatives again, job security has been rocked, there is an increased threat to many people's health and government guidance is continuously changing, leading to much uncertainty and anxiety.

"What our research focused in on is how some individuals have struggled to tolerate and adapt to these uncertainties - much more so than in normal times. These results have important implications as we move to help people psychologically distressed by these challenging times in the weeks, months and years ahead."

Deeper analysis reveals that those in vulnerable groups - classified according to the UK government 'vulnerable' categories - report twice the rates of health-related anxiety than the general population. Those who identified themselves in these categories were on average more anxious and depressed, with anxiety and health anxiety specifically significantly higher than in non-vulnerable groups. Those who are in the vulnerable group are at risk both physically and psychologically.

Average age of participants in the study was 38 years old, 22% of whom had a pre-existing medical condition. The majority of respondents were female (80% female: 20% male).

The team who led the work hope their findings can help inform clinical practice in dealing with the mental health aftermath caused by these tumultuous past six months. They suggest one of the most important findings concerns those in vulnerable groups who demonstrate significantly higher levels of distress yet are also those most likely to have shielded for longest. This needs to be addressed by policymakers to ensure adequate and appropriately tailored provision of mental health services moving forwards, they say.

The researchers suggest that clinicians could use their findings to target intolerance of uncertainty as part of standard psychological therapies, focussing on developing coping skills to reduce distress. This could also be extended to public resources, drawing out individuals' abilities to manage uncertainty and reduce reliance on less effective coping strategies, for example denial or self-blame.

Research lead Dr Jo Daniels also of the Department of Psychology at Bath, who has written and spoken extensively about health anxiety and how this relates to coronavirus, added: "This is important research which looks at the potential mechanisms in COVID-19 related distress, a recently prioritised area of research. These findings can help us to tailor our existing psychological treatments to help those most in need but may also be useful in considering what coping strategies might be particularly helpful at a new time of uncertainty.

"We are also now better informed as to the likely number of the population that are experiencing clinical levels of health-related anxiety. This may serve to normalise distress at this difficult time and promote the uptake of emerging models of COVID-19 related distress for those who may need support at this time of uncertainty."

"While this research offers important insights into how common distress was during 'lockdown', it is important to stress that anxiety is a normal response to an abnormal situation such as a pandemic. It can be helpful to mobilise precautionary behaviours such as hand-washing and social distancing. Yet for many, as reflected in our findings, anxiety is reaching distressing levels and may continue despite easing of restrictions - it is essential we create service provision to meet this need, which is likely to be ongoing, particularly with current expectations of a second wave. Further longitudinal research is needed to establish how this may change over time."

###

 

UNIVERSITY OF BATH

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities both in terms of research and our reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and graduate prospects. The University is rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the Government's assessment of teaching quality in universities, meaning its teaching is of the highest quality in the UK.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 research assessment 87 per cent of our research was defined as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'. From developing fuel efficient cars of the future, to identifying infectious diseases more quickly, or working to improve the lives of female farmers in West Africa, research from Bath is making a difference around the world. Find out more: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/.

Well established as a nurturing environment for enterprising minds, Bath is ranked highly in all national league tables. We are ranked 6th in the UK by The Guardian University Guide 2020, 5th for graduate prospects in The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020, and 9th out of 131 UK universities in the Complete University Guide 2021.

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY




Filters close

Showing results

1120 of 3821
Newswise: UNH Digs Deep Testing Wastewater for Early Warning Signs of COVID-19
Released: 28-Oct-2020 1:05 PM EDT
UNH Digs Deep Testing Wastewater for Early Warning Signs of COVID-19
University of New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire has gone underground to flush out cases of the coronavirus by testing wastewater on campus. The sewage sampling is being used as a secondary surveillance method to the already required twice a week individual nasal test to track and detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Newswise: Safely Celebrate the Holidays During COVID-19
Released: 28-Oct-2020 12:50 PM EDT
Safely Celebrate the Holidays During COVID-19
Rush University Medical Center

Families gathered around the table for hours to share food, conversation and laughter — all the ingredients for a joyous holiday -- and the spread of COVID-19. Rush infectious disease specialists and a child psychologist share facts and tips for enjoying the holidays safely.

Released: 28-Oct-2020 12:45 PM EDT
COVID-19 vaccine nationalism could cost world up to $1.2 trillion: New RAND Europe study
RAND Corporation

Nationalistic behaviour by governments may exclude some countries from gaining access to COVID-19 vaccines and cost the global economy up to $1.2 trillion a year in GDP, according to a new study from the not-for-profit research organisation RAND Europe.

Newswise:Video Embedded first-came-breast-cancer-then-covid-19
VIDEO
Released: 28-Oct-2020 12:00 PM EDT
First Came Breast Cancer, Then COVID-19
Cedars-Sinai

Natalie Coehlo wasn’t concerned at first about the sudden rash on her left breast last December. Six months later, though, when the rash had morphed into sores, she visited her primary care physician in Tulare, California.

Newswise: 247119_web.jpg
Released: 28-Oct-2020 11:55 AM EDT
Lockdown interviews show poor housing quality has made life even tougher
University of Huddersfield

Life during COVID-19 has not been a uniform experience. There have been distinct differences in how people have contended with lockdown, depending on whether they have access to safe, secure and decent accommodation.

Released: 28-Oct-2020 11:45 AM EDT
Cognitive disorders linked to severe COVID-19 risk
University of Georgia

Dementia and other cognitive disorders now appear to be risk factors for developing severe COVID-19, according to research from the University of Georgia.

Newswise: University of Miami serving as pilot study site for new, rapid coronavirus breathalyzer test
Released: 28-Oct-2020 11:40 AM EDT
University of Miami serving as pilot study site for new, rapid coronavirus breathalyzer test
University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

By participating in a short clinical research study that begins this week, the University of Miami became the first college testing site for a quick, easy, and cost-effective Israeli-produced COVID-19 Breath Analyzer that could revolutionize coronavirus testing if approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Newswise: UB spinoff Cytocybernetics receives funding to accelerate COVID-19 drug screening
Released: 28-Oct-2020 11:35 AM EDT
UB spinoff Cytocybernetics receives funding to accelerate COVID-19 drug screening
University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo spinoff Cytocybernetics is developing a high-tech tool called CyberQ to rapidly assess whether or not investigational COVID-19 drugs have arrhythmogenic properties that can result in sudden cardiac death.

Newswise: Nova Southeastern University Researchers Receive $4 Million From CDC for ‘COVID Long Haulers’ Study
Released: 28-Oct-2020 11:30 AM EDT
Nova Southeastern University Researchers Receive $4 Million From CDC for ‘COVID Long Haulers’ Study
Nova Southeastern University

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, health care providers are finding more and more patients are experiencing lingering symptoms after recovering from the virus. While the medical community is still working hard to address the virus itself and racing toward a vaccine, there is very little known or being done to address these residual health issues being experienced by those now called “COVID long haulers.” But all of that is about to change, thanks to research scientists at Nova Southeastern University (NSU.)


Showing results

1120 of 3821

close
1.05159