Massive Study Sheds Light on the Psychological Consequences


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New research indicates that the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 is affecting the mental health of employees in a significant way. The findings, which appear in Occupational Health Science, provide important insight into the deleterious psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers.

The pandemic has resulted in social isolation, financial strain, uncertainty, health concerns, and — in some cases — increased workloads. To better understand the psychological consequences of the pandemic, the authors of the new study conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of workers’ psychosomatic strain related specifically to COVID-19.

A meta-analysis is a statistical procedure that combines the results of multiple studies to provide a more precise estimate of the overall effect of a particular intervention or treatment. It allows researchers to draw more robust conclusions by increasing the sample size and reducing the impact of chance or random variation.

“One year into pandemic, I was interested in whether work-related literature on COVID-19 had matured enough to warrant a meta-analysis,” explained study author William Jimenez (@WPJimenez), a PhD candidate at Old Dominion University and member of the LEAF research lab.

“I noticed that some researchers were studying pandemic-related strain responses, such as fear of COVID-19 and coronavirus anxiety, in working individuals. After presenting preliminary findings at the 2021 Work, Stress, and Health conference, I asked my doctoral advisor Dr. Ian Katz and labmate Elissa Liguori if they would be interested in helping me update the meta-analysis and prepare a manuscript for journal submission.”

“I was working professionally when the pandemic began and saw how it affected the office climate and my peers,” said Liguori (@ElissaLiguori), a doctoral student. “During my first year of graduate school, I was excited to join a project that empirically examined some of the changes I witnessed.”

The meta-analysis included 135 independent samples representing 61,470 workers. Twenty-four different measures of COVID-19 distress were used, with the most popular being the Fear of COVID-19 Scale and the Coronavirus Anxiety Scale.

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