Perceived efficacy of COVID-19 restrictions, reactions and their impact on mental health during the early phase of the outbreak in six countries: Perceived efficacy reactions COVID-19

Martin Jensen Mækelæ, Niv Reggev, Natalia Dutra, Ricardo M. Tamayo, Reinaldo A. Silva-Sobrinho, Kristoffer Klevjer, Gerit Pfuhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to drastically change their social life habits as governments employed harsh restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus. Although beneficial to physical health, the perception of physical distancing and related restrictions could impact mental health. In a pre-registered online survey, we assessed how effective a range of restrictions were perceived, how severely they affected daily life, general distress and paranoia during the early phase of the outbreak in Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Israel, Norway and USA. Most of our over 2000 respondents rated the restrictions as effective. School closings were perceived as having the strongest effect on daily life. Participants who believed their country reacted too mildly perceived the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 to be higher, were more worried and expressed reduced beliefs in the ability to control the outbreak. Relatedly, dissatisfaction with governmental reactions corresponded with increased distress levels. Together, we found that satisfaction with one's governmental reactions and fear appraisal play an important role in assessing the efficacy of restrictions during the pandemic and their related psychological outcomes. These findings inform policy-makers on the psychological factors that strengthen resilience and foster the well-being of citizens in times of global crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200644
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume7
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • distress
  • lockdown
  • pandemic
  • perceived risk
  • protection motivation theory

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