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Winter is coming: age and early psychological concomitants of the Covid-19 pandemic in England

Jerome Carson (Department of Psychology, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Julie Prescott (Department of Psychology, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Rosie Allen (Department of Psychology, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Sandie McHugh (Department of Psychology, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 31 July 2020

Issue publication date: 28 September 2020

450

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to demonstrate early psychological concomitants of the Covid-19 pandemic in England on a sample of younger and older people.

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional quantitative questionnaire (n = 1608) was conducted on the Prolific website. Participants completed the PERMA Scale (Flourishing), the four Office of National Statistics (ONS4) Well-being Questions, the Clinical Outcomes Measure in Routine Evaluation (CORE-10) and the short University of California Los Angeles Brief Loneliness Scale.

Findings

Data were gathered on March 18, 2020, near the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This study looks at the effects of the developing pandemic on younger participants (18 to 25 years, n = 391) and older participants (60 to 80 years, n = 104). Flourishing levels for older participants were significantly higher (M = 107.96) than for younger participants (M = 97.80). Younger participants scored significantly higher on the ONS4 for anxiety and lower than the older participants for happiness, life satisfaction and having a worthwhile life. Levels of psychological distress (CORE-10) were also significantly lower for older participants (M = 9.06) than for younger participants (M = 14.61). Finally, younger participants scored significantly higher on the Brief UCLA Loneliness Scale (M = 6.05) than older participants (M = 4.64).

Research limitations/implications

From these findings, the Covid-19 pandemic was having a significantly greater effect on younger people in England, less than one week before the UK went into “lockdown”. Scores for both the Younger and Older groups on all the study measures were worse than normative comparisons. The study had no specific measure of Covid-19 anxiety, but nor was one available at the time of the survey.

Practical implications

This study suggests that younger people (18 to 25) may be a more vulnerable group during the Covid-19 pandemic than many may have realized.

Social implications

As a recent British Psychological Society report concluded, there is a lot of untapped wisdom amongst older groups in society.

Originality/value

This is one of the earliest studies to look at psychological distress before England went into “lockdown.”

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded from a grant by Research England, under their Special Projects Fund. The authors are grateful for the support of Professor Patrick McGhee and Dr Gill Waugh.

Citation

Carson, J., Prescott, J., Allen, R. and McHugh, S. (2020), "Winter is coming: age and early psychological concomitants of the Covid-19 pandemic in England", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 221-230. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-06-2020-0062

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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