Newswise — Research by psychologists from the School of Psychology at Swansea University found that people’s fear of COVID-19 has led to worsened mental health. The study, just published in the Journal of Health Psychology, also found that older participants and those from minority ethnic groups were most likely to experience COVID-19 fear.

The researchers examined the impact of COVID-19 fear on key aspects of psychological wellbeing with an online survey of the same sample of participants at two different timepoints during the pandemic.

The first timepoint took place in February 2021 when daily death rates and hospitalisations were at their highest during the pandemic (to date) and vaccination rates were low. At this point, COVID-19 fear predicted higher levels of anxiety, depression, worry, loneliness, sleep difficulties and problems coping with uncertainty

The second timepoint took place in June 2021 when daily death rates and hospitalisations had dropped considerably, and many participants had received two vaccinations.  At this  second point, levels of COVID-19 fear had decreased; however, fear of the virus still predicted higher levels of worry, sleep difficulties and problems in dealing with uncertain situations.

In this way, the impact of COVID-19 evolved, impacting different aspects of wellbeing among the same sample of participants.

Dr Martyn Quigley, Lecturer in Psychology at Swansea University, who led the study, said:

“This research demonstrates the significant toll of the pandemic on the psychological wellbeing of many people, especially at the most challenging times during the pandemic. What is particularly striking though is that COVID-19 fear continued to have an impact on people’s wellbeing when circumstances had appeared to considerably improve, thus demonstrating the long-term impact of the pandemic on wellbeing.”

The research was conducted as part of a Welsh Government (Ser-Cymru) funded project examining the impact of COVID-19 on psychological wellbeing. In addition to conducting survey-based studies, the researchers have conducted online experiments adapted from tasks regularly used in the laboratory to provide behavioural performance markers of mental health coping as we emerge from the pandemic.

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Notes to editors:

The article entitled, “Longitudinal assessment of COVID-19 fear and psychological wellbeing in the United Kingdom”, can be accessed here: https://doi.org/10.1177/13591053221134848

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university offering a first-class student experience and has one of the best employability rates of graduates in the UK. The University has the highest possible rating for teaching – the Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2018 and was commended for its high proportions of students achieving consistently outstanding outcomes.

Swansea climbed 14 places to 31st in the Guardian University Guide 2019, making us Wales’ top ranked university, with one of the best success rates of graduates gaining employment in the UK and the same overall satisfaction level as the Number 1 ranked university.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results saw Swansea make the ‘biggest leap among research-intensive institutions’ in the UK (Times Higher Education, December 2014) and achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK.

The University is in the top 300 best universities in the world, ranked in the 251-300 group in The Times Higher Education World University rankings 2018.  Swansea University now has 23 main partners, awarding joint degrees and post-graduate qualifications.

The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK. It currently offers around 350 undergraduate courses and 350 postgraduate courses to circa 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.  The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020 and aims to continue to extend its global reach and realise its domestic and international potential.

Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit www.swansea.ac.uk

Swansea University

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