Research takes aim at social tool for fighting COVID-19

Sociologists gain NSF COVID-19 grant to study impact of social distancing

Newswise — BOWLING GREEN, OHIO – Three Bowling Green State University researchers are taking aim at a social tool in the arsenal to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drs. Peggy Giordano, Monica Longmore and Wendy Manning will conduct research on social distancing and what factors might influence individual’s levels of compliance as they grapple with recommendations to stay at least six feet away from others and to avoid gathering in groups. The sociology faculty members recently received a nod from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a one-year, $200,000 Rapid Response Research grant to research how people are complying with the pandemic guidelines.

“We know nothing about what it means to be social distancing. Our society's so oriented toward social interactions in person,” Manning said. “As officials are asking people to limit and restrict their social worlds, this is a new opportunity to understand what this kind of stress means for people and how they’re functioning.” 

“Maybe being heavily embedded in a good, strong social network is not necessarily a positive for following the social distancing recommendations,” the team hypothesized. If people are used to hanging out with friends multiple times a week or visiting family frequently, social distancing could be more difficult.

As sociologists, they are well aware that human behavior is shaped by the groups to which people belong and by the social interaction that takes place within those groups. One of the distinct aspects of the BGSU research is that it relies, not on strangers to answer a survey, but on a group of approximately 1,300 Lucas County residents who have been part of a longitudinal study for about 20 years.

The Toledo Adolescent Relationship Study started in 2001, Longmore said.

“Peggy’s a criminologist, Wendy does demography and I’m a social psychologist, and we wanted to work together to bridge these different theoretical perspectives and our interest in social relationships,” she said.

Participants selected for the study vary widely in their education, neighborhood circumstances, economic levels and diversity. The study examined the influence of parents, peers and romantic partners on adolescent and eventually young adult behaviors. And over the course of the previous six interviews, the research has retained a focus on romantic partners as well on involvement with peers and parents as influences on significant behavioral outcomes, Longmore said.

Over the past 20 years, these individuals have become adults, many married, with children and some are caring for parents. By virtue of collecting information six times during the two decades, the research team already knows quite a bit about this group.

All of the interviews have resulted is this longitudinal study that “positions us to assess things like whether the experience of social distancing has influenced stress levels, negative coping strategies such as increased drinking, or shifts in levels of depression,” Giordano said. 

 “We know a lot about this population and so now we can use that to frame and understand this rather different period in all of our lives” Giordano said.

“Because the entire project is about social relationships, this newest round of online questionnaires and in-depth interviews with a smaller subset will explore what social distancing means for individuals’ wellbeing in relationships and in family functioning,” Manning said.

The timing was serendipitous. The field work for the sixth wave of data collection was wrapping up in March at about the same time as news of the shutdowns and closings was evolving, Manning said.

“We started asking, ‘What’s happening with our sample?’” she said.

It was a great opportunity to explore the impact of social distancing. Giordano, Longmore and Manning pivoted and worked intensely for two weeks to develop and write the proposal for the NSF’s RAPID grants for COVID-19. They received a response in two days, affirming their research topic has value.

“We assume there are going to be a lot of negative influences, but there’s also going to be some people who do quite well and cope well, “Giordano said. The study will try to identify the positive coping strategies that work well, as well as characteristics of people who are able to maintain social distancing guidelines and those who aren’t able to consistently follow the guidelines.

Maybe decisions not to comply are based on other life circumstances that get in the way, they suggested. “I could have the best intentions in the world of being a perfect social distancer, but the odds I can achieve that might be low because of caring for children, parents or disabled members of the family, Manning said.

The long-term impact of the study has many implications for enhancing public good.

“This might help public health organizations move away from the idea of ‘one size fits all’ messaging,” Giordano said.

Because public health is very much about communication and messaging strategies, the results could help shape how these topics are communicated to target audiences, such as for people who are highly disadvantaged and might have to choose between complying with public requests or caring for family members.

The multi-method study begins in May with the in-depth interviews followed by the online surveys in June. They hope to wrap up the field work and begin analyzing the qualitative data with the help of undergraduate and graduate students by December.

The team will prepare a report as well as engage in community outreach to share their findings. Though the NSF grant concludes next April, the team believes there will be additional research opportunities about social distancing that will follow.  

###



Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5835
Newswise: Pandemic-Era Crowdfunding More Common, Successful in Affluent Communities
Released: 16-Jun-2021 5:05 PM EDT
Pandemic-Era Crowdfunding More Common, Successful in Affluent Communities
University of Washington

A new University of Washington study of requests and donations to the popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe, along with Census data, shows stark inequities in where the money went and how much was donated.

Newswise: In Show of COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence, 96% of America’s Ophthalmologists Already Vaccinated
Released: 16-Jun-2021 3:50 PM EDT
In Show of COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence, 96% of America’s Ophthalmologists Already Vaccinated
American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is calling on its members to continue to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and encourage people to get vaccinated, including their staff.

Newswise: Biophysical Study Sheds Light on Potentially Druggable Process of SARS-CoV-2 Replication
Released: 16-Jun-2021 12:50 PM EDT
Biophysical Study Sheds Light on Potentially Druggable Process of SARS-CoV-2 Replication
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

This study investigates how the nucleocapsid protein, or N protein, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus packages the viral genome.

Newswise: ‘Wonder material’ can be used to detect COVID-19 quickly, accurately
Released: 16-Jun-2021 11:55 AM EDT
‘Wonder material’ can be used to detect COVID-19 quickly, accurately
University of Illinois at Chicago

Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago have successfully used graphene — one of the strongest, thinnest known materials — to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in laboratory experiments.

Newswise: UCLA-led Research Finds Connections Between Air Quality and COVID Vulnerability
Released: 16-Jun-2021 11:05 AM EDT
UCLA-led Research Finds Connections Between Air Quality and COVID Vulnerability
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Even as governments across the United States consider lifting mask mandates and relaxing preventative measures as vaccination numbers creep up, new research from a UCLA-led team has found that such basic techniques significantly reduce the risk of getting COVID-19. In addition, the research found that U.S. counties with higher exposures to poor air quality, historically, saw higher county-level COVID-19 mortality rates in 2020.

Newswise: Story Tips from Johns Hopkins Experts on COVID-19
Released: 16-Jun-2021 11:00 AM EDT
Story Tips from Johns Hopkins Experts on COVID-19
Johns Hopkins Medicine

NEWS STORIES IN THIS ISSUE: - Stressed About “Returning to Normal”? Here Are Tips to Ease Into the Transition - Be Your Brother’s Keeper: Steps for Faith-Based Communities to Reopen Safely

Newswise: Virtual Event For June 17, 11AM EDT: COVID-19 Vaccines and Male Fertility
Released: 16-Jun-2021 8:55 AM EDT
Virtual Event For June 17, 11AM EDT: COVID-19 Vaccines and Male Fertility
Newswise

This upcoming JAMA-published study examined whether the COVID-19 vaccine impacts male fertility.

Released: 16-Jun-2021 8:00 AM EDT
Two COVID-19 Vaccines Show Safety, Strong Immunity in Infant Model
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

The Moderna mRNA vaccine and a protein-based vaccine candidate elicited durable neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in pre-clinical research. There were no adverse effects.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 17-Jun-2021 5:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 16-Jun-2021 5:00 AM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 17-Jun-2021 5:00 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.


Showing results

110 of 5835

close
2.24305