Demographic and health factors associated with pandemic anxiety in the context of COVID-19

E. McElroy, P. Patalay, B. Moltrecht, M. Shevlin, A. Shum, C. Creswell, P. Waite

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The mental health consequences of COVID‐19 are predicted to have a disproportionate impact on certain groups. We aimed to develop a brief measure, the Pandemic Anxiety Scale, to capture the specific aspects of the pandemic that are provoking anxiety, and explore how these vary by health and demographic factors.


Data were from a convenience sample of parents (N = 4,793) and adolescents (N = 698) recruited in the first 6 weeks of lockdown.


Factor analytic and IRT methods were used to validate the new measure in both parent and adolescent samples. Associations between scores on the new measure and age, gender, household income, and physical health status were explored using structural equation modelling (SEM).


Two factors were identified in both samples: disease anxiety (e.g., catching, transmitting the virus) and consequence anxiety (e.g., impact on economic prospects); and unique associations with health and demographic factors were observed.


Anxieties due to the COVID‐19 are multifaceted, and the PAS is a short, reliable, and valid measure of these concerns. These anxieties are differentially associated with demographic, social, and health factors, which should be considered when developing strategies to mitigate the mental health impact of the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-944
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date29 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 27 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. British Journal of Health Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • COVID-19
  • anxiety
  • lockdown
  • mental health
  • pandemic
  • scale development
  • validation


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