Researchers have found that if people know more about COVID-19, the less pandemic-related stress they will exhibit. The study published in the ‘Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences’ also found that making plans to reduce stress was also effective for older adults but not for people in their 40s or younger.
“Covid-19 is a new disease — it’s not something that people worried about before so we wanted to see how people were responding to and coping with this new source of stress,” said study co-author Shevaun Neupert from North Carolina State University in the US.
“For the results, the research team surveyed 515 adults across the US. The adults ranged in age from 20-79. The cohorts of study participants had an average age of just under 40 and 46 of them were more than 60 years old. The surveys were conducted between March 20 and April 19, 2020. One part of the survey was a 29-item quiz designed to assess how much study participants knew about Covid-19. Coupled with other elements of the survey, this lets researchers assess whether an understanding of Covid-19 made people feel more stress or less.”
“We found that knowledge is power. More the factual information people had about COVID-19, the less stress they exhibited. That was true across age groups,” Neupert said.
According to the researchers, knowledge reduces uncertainty and uncertainty can be very stressful.
“Although speculative, it is likely that knowledge about this new virus reduced uncertainty which in turn reduced feelings of pandemic stress,” Neupert added.
The researchers went into the study thinking older adults would likely experience more stress related to COVID-19 because the disease was portrayed as particularly dangerous to senior citizens. But they found that pandemic-related stress levels were the same for all age groups.
“These results suggest that everyone can benefit from staying engaged with factual information that will increase knowledge about Covid-19,” the study authors wrote.
“In addition older adults who are able to use proactive coping such as trying to prepare for adverse events could decrease their pandemic stress,” they noted.
Another recent study, published in the journal PLOS One, revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing higher levels of depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and psychological trauma among adults.
Recently, Australian researchers also found that elevated psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms, were found among adults during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.