image of needle pulling covid-19 vaccine; A prospective longitudinal study of the mental and physical health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by a UCI nursing and psychological science team has received a grant to continue.

A nursing and psychological science team of investigators have received a grant to continue a prospective longitudinal study of the mental and physical health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study team has surveyed a large probability-based, representative sample of over 6500 Americans twice and is poised to conduct another survey in the coming weeks.

The study, “Responding to turbulent times: Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Aftermath” engages a probability-based US national sample, and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant totals $363,998.

Psychological Science Professor Roxane Cohen Silver is the principal investigator. UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing Professor E. Alison Holman and Adjunct Professor Dana Rose Garfin are co-principal investigators.

The team will study COVID-19 vaccination status and related hesitancy. It will also continue to examine the stressors people have experienced over the last year to understand how they are faring.

They will also conduct a follow-up physical health survey this fall to study the early predictors of pandemic stress-related health issues.

COVID’s unequal impact

Experiencing multiple stressors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic — such as unemployment — and related media consumption are directly linked to rising acute stress and depressive symptoms across the US, the study’s authors wrote in a paper published last year by Science Advances.

The length and widespread impact of the pandemic, particularly in underserved communities, is a unique opportunity to study these links further.

“The pandemic is not hitting all communities equally,” Holman says.

“People have lost wages, jobs and loved ones with record speed. Individuals living with chronic mental and physical illness are struggling; young people are struggling; poor communities are struggling. Mental health services need to be tailored to those most in need right now.”