In a new study, researchers found that people who said they felt knowledgeable about the coronavirus at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to have a positive emotional state than were those who said they didn’t feel well informed.
Drawing from two large nationwide surveys conducted in China around the time of the coronavirus outbreak, they found that the onset of the pandemic led to a 74% drop in overall emotional well-being.
Factors included residing near an outbreak epicenter, being a member of a vulnerable group such as the elderly, and dealing with relationship issues during a lockdown.
The research was conducted by a team at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere.
The team notes that people who perceived themselves as knowledgeable about the virus—regardless of the actual amount of their knowledge—experienced more happiness during the outbreak than did those who didn’t perceive themselves as informed about COVID-19.
This higher perception of one’s own knowledge was associated with a stronger sense of control, which helped protect emotional well-being.
What’s more, this conclusion was largely consistent across demographic and economic groups.
The findings could inform public policymakers and mental health authorities who seek to protect or boost psychological well-being during a major outbreak such as COVID-19.
The team says resources for mental health care should be made more available to groups that are most psychologically vulnerable during an epidemic.
Specific policies, programs, and interventions need to be developed to help foster positive family relationships during an extended lockdown.
Also, efforts that increase people’s understanding of how to effectively prevent infection can help boost their emotional wellbeing.
The lead author of the study is Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Assistant Professor Haiyang Yang.
The study is published in Psychiatry Research.
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