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

Eoin McElroy, Praveetha Patalay, Bettina Moltrecht, M Shevlin, Adrienne Shum, Cathy Creswell, Polly Waite

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Abstract

Objectives

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.

Design

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

Methods

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).

Results

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.

Conclusions

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
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Early online date29 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2020

Keywords

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

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