Background and Methods: Based on an established ongoing prospective-longitudinal study examining anxiety in response to COVID-19, a representative sample of 1018 Jewish-Israeli adults were recruited online. A baseline assessment was employed two days prior to the first spread of COVID-19, followed by six weekly assessments. Three classes of general anxiety and virus-specific anxiety were identified: (1) “Panic” (a very high and stable anxiety throughout the spread), (2) “Complacency” (a very low and stable anxiety throughout the spread), and (3) “Threat-Sensitivity” (a linear increase, plateauing at the 5th wave). For general-anxiety only, a fourth, “Balanced,” class was identified, exhibiting a stable, middle-level of anxiety. We tested theory-based, baseline, social-cognitive predictors of these classes: self-criticism, perceived social support, and perceptions/attitudes towards the Israeli Ministry of Health. We also controlled for trait anxiety. Multinomial regression analyses in the context of General Mixture Modeling were utilized. Results: Baseline virus-specific anxiety linearly predicted emerging virus-specific anxiety classes. Virus-specific panic has higher trait anxiety than the other two classes. The general anxiety panic class was over-represented by women and exhibited higher baseline general anxiety and self-criticism than all other classes, and higher baseline virus-specific anxiety along with lower perceived support and less positive perceptions of the ministry of health than two of the three other classes. Conclusions: Preexisting anxiety shapes subsequent anxious responses to the spread of COVID-19. The general-anxiety panic class may be markedly demoralized, requiring targeted public-health interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- History and Philosophy of Science