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Change in psychological distress in response to changes in reduced mobility during the early 2020 COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence of modest effects from the U.S.

Soc Sci Med. 2020 Dec 17;270:113615

Authors: Devaraj S, Patel PC

RATIONALE: During the early 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, several US states had implemented stay-in-place orders (SIPOs) with varying degrees of stringency which resulted in inter-state differences in mobility (i.e., longer presence at home). We test whether the inter-state differences in mobility influenced changes in reported psychological distress. Our study is not on the surge in COVID-19 in the later part of 2020.
OBJECTIVE: To identify whether the change in state-level mobility is associated with the change in individuals’ reported psychological distress during the early COVID-19 pandemic and whether the intensity of the association varies by older individuals, females, and nonwhites.
METHODS: We use differences in state-level mobility and change in reported psychological distress between the two dates of interviews of 5,132 individuals who participated in March and April 2020 waves of Understanding America Study (UAS).
RESULTS: We find support for modest effects, i.e., a one standard deviation decline in mobility was associated with a 3.02% higher psychological distress [95% CI: 0.4%-5.64%], and the effects are robust to controlling for reported changes in exercise intensity, alcohol consumption, cannabis use, recreational drug use, and meditation intensity. We also find support for a stronger association for females, but not for older individuals or non-whites. Further, we do not find support for the mediation effects from change in chance of running out of money or change in chance of getting COVID-19.
CONCLUSION: Our findings show that reduced mobility from lockdowns during the early COVID-19 wave in the US is associated with a modest increase in reported psychological distress, especially for females. However, these conclusions should not be construed as a small increase in psychological distress in general, as a variety of non-mobility related factors associated with COVID-19 could have exacerbated psychological distress during the early COVID-19 wave in the US.

PMID: 33352476 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: ncbi 2

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Categories: Medical

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