Data repository

Op deze pagina kan je de data repository vinden die bestaat uit all huidige psychologische studies omtrent COVID-19 in België. Voor elk van deze studies wordt er een korte inhoud, take home message en beleidsimplicaties gegeven. De studies worden in alfabetische volgorde van de eerste auteur weergegeven. 

 

Er zijn twee verschillende opties om de lijst van studies te doorzoeken.De eerste optie is om de verschillende filters te gebruiken die informatie selecteren op basis van de leeftijdscategorie van de populatie , de type populatie of het hoofdthema. Daarnaast is het ook mogelijk om de zoekfunctie te gebruiken om op trefwoorden te zoeken. De filters en zoekfuntie kunnen niet tegelijkertijd gebruikt worden. De data repository is enkel beschikbaar in het Engels. 

Als je een studie wilt toevoegen aan deze data repository, kan je dit document invullen. Gelieve ervoor te zorgen dat alle kolommen ingevuld zijn. Voor bijkomende vragen over de data repository kan je mailen naar Alix.Bigot@gmail.com of hannah.de.laet@vub.be

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Vaping during the COVID-19 lockdown period in Belgium

Adriaens, K., Van Gucht, D., Van Lommel, S., & Baeyens F

Short summary

Due to the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Belgian government has set out a range of measures to prevent the spread of the virus. One measure included closing all non-food shops, including vape shops. A retrospective online questionnaire was used to investigate the impact of closing the vape shops on the vaping and/or smoking behavior of current vapers. The sample (n = 202) reached consisted of 70% exclusive vapers, 29% dual users and 1% no-product users. Over half (55%) of participants was in need to buy e-liquid during the lockdown, with a small majority being able to buy e-liquids – mostly with their usual nicotine concentrations, flavor or brand –, but as much as 39% of them running out of e-liquid. Those buying e-liquid mainly did so by making purchases via foreign online webshops. A similar pattern was observed with respect to purchasing hardware, with about half (47%) of participants reporting hardware availability and with a small majority (53%) reporting hardware unavailability. Of those indicating that hardware was not available, 38% ran out of a properly functioning e-cigarette. A non-trivial minority was forced to consume e-liquids with another nicotine concentration, flavor or brand than usual. One seventh of exclusive vapers relapsed partly or completely to smoking during the lockdown. The main reasons for changing vaping and/or smoking behavior included the unavailability of e-liquid with nicotine, the unavailability of hardware, and stress/worries about COVID-19. The majority of vapers succeeded in maintaining their vaping behavior as usual, highly likely due to (illegally) buying consumables online. Nevertheless, for a minority the lockdown period resulted in unintended consequences and these vapers relapsed (completely) to smoking. Even during periods of lockdown, smokers and vapers should be able to purchase low(er)-risk alternatives to smoking, for example e-cigarettes.

Take home message

1. A majority of vapers knows how to purchase e-liquids and consumables, even when brick-and-mortar vape shops are closed.
2. A non-trivial minority relapse to smoking when e-liquids and consumables are not accessible.

Policy implications

1. The ability to purchase e-liquids and consumables online may be a protective factor to relapse to smoking when brick-and-mortar vape shops need to be closed.
2. Access to low(er)-risk alternatives to smoking needs to be guaranteed at all times.

Comparative optimism about infection and recovery from COVID-19; Implications for adherence with lockdown advice.

Asimakopoulou, K., Hoorens, V., Speed, E., Coulson, N. S., Antoniszczak, D., Collyer, F., Deschrijver, E., Dubbin, L., Faulks, D., Forsyth, R., Goltsi, V., Harsløf, I., Larsen, K., Manaras, I., Olczak-Kowalczyk, D., Willis, K., Xenou, T. & Scambler, S.

Short summary

We examine various aspects of risk perception concerning COVID-19, including biases in the perception of one’s own and other people’s risk and risk behavior and attributions of responsibility to various instances for spreading infections and curbing the pandemic in 9 countries. The main Flemish sample includes over 8000 adult participants of all ages of the general public (mostly women).

Take home message

Most people believe that they are less vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. ;People believe that they have contributed more to the curbing than to the spreading of infections; Large differences exist between countries in the extent to which people believe that the government and scientists have contributed to spreading infections and curbing the pandemic. ; Belgium is among the countries with highest confidence in the role of the medical system and scientists in curbing the pandemic (and less in the role of the government). UK and US are the only countries where people believe that the government has contributed more to the spreading than to the curbing of the pandemic.

Policy implications

Because comparative optimism may encourage risk behavior and the neglect of precautions, it must be addressed in public health communication ; Flanders is doing well in maintaining people’s trust in the medical system and scientists; There is room for improvement of trust in measures imposed by the government

Adherence to the Physical Distancing Measures during the COVID‐19 Pandemic: A HAPA‐Based Perspective

Beeckman, M., De Paepe, A., Van Alboom, M., Maes, S., Wauters, A., Baert, F., Kissi, A., Veirman, E., Van Ryckeghem, D. & Poppe, L

Short summary

In general, retributive measures were supported less than assistance measures, because such policies go against core democratic values (e.g., personal freedom). However, respondents who read news reports about norm-deviating groups reported more negative emotions (e.g., anger, condemnation, disgust), which further caused more support for retributive measures and less assistance support. Interestingly, respondents who read about norm-violating foreigners showed the highest support for retributive measures, indicating that people might blame foreigners for spreading the virus rather than fellow nationals that disobey hygiene standards and social distancing. These findings have important consequences for international relations within Europe.
Italy was the first European country where the COVID-19 disease hit hard, and was readily accused of spreading the virus around Europe. People search for positive
distinctiveness in relation to other groups in any given comparative context. Hence, news about other national groups breaking ‘corona-measures’ has the potential to elicit very strong negative emotions towards these norm-violating (sub)groups. Furthermore, such emotions can further translate into a stronger endorsement of punishment-based governmental decisions to contain the virus. The consequences of such shifted [A6] attitudes towards foreigners should not be underestimated. As the Head of the United Nations, António Guterres, stated, the COVID-19 outbreak is unleashing “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scaremongering”. Seven hundred years ago, there was an increase in anti-Jew hatred during the Black Death. Now, we can also notice a rise in prejudice towards Asians in other studies, and towards (disobeying) Italians in our study. When governments blame such foreign groups, they might opt for harsher confinement measures. Their citizens might perceive such decisions as more legitimate, and potentially become more hostile towards foreigners. Such negative spiral readily exacerbates international tensions. It is therefore of utmost importance to avoid thinking in terms of the “us-versus-them” divide. We advocate policy makers to create a sense of inclusive togetherness, and promote collective resilience and international solidarity. As an optimistic endnote, it seems that people endorse such solidarity- based measures to a greater extent than retributive measures, even for deviant foreigners. The future will tell whether or not such methods will be effective to fight future pandemics.

Take home message

1. Self‐efficacy, outcome expectancies, intention, action planning, and coping planning are related to adherence to physical distancing measures.
2. Reduced mental well‐being is related to more difficulties to adhere to physical distancing measures and less perseverance in doing so.
3. Social support is an important resource for adherence to the keeping 1.5 m physical distance measure.

Policy implications

Health action process approach determinants are associated with adherence to physical distancing measures. Future work could therefore design HAPA‐based interventions to support people in adhering to these measures.

Sociodemographic, Cognitive and Emotional Determinants of Two Health Behaviors during SARS-Cov-2 Outbreak: An Online Study among French-Speaking Belgian Responders during the Spring Lockdown

Bigot, A., Banse, E., Cordonnier, A. & Luminet, O.

Short summary

To contain the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate, health authorities have encouraged the population to enhance protective behaviors such as physical distancing and handwashing. Behavioral sciences emphasize the role of socio-cognitive determinants to explain health behaviors, while largely ignoring emotional factors. In a large online study (N > 4000), we investigated the role of sociodemographic, cognitive, emotional, and social factors that can facilitate or hinder handwashing and limitation of social contacts. Data were collected from March 18 until April 19, 2020, which corresponds to the spring lockdown and the first peak of the pandemic in Belgium. Logistic regressions showed that socio-demographic factors (gender, age, level of education) and the dimensions of the Theory of Planned Behavior (intentions, attitudes, perceived control and subjective norms) had a strong impact on health behaviors, but that emotional factors explained an additional part of the variance. Being attentive/determined and frightened/anxious were related to a higher frequency of handwashing, along with a high level of health anxiety. In contrast, being enthusiastic/happy was related to lower adherence to limiting social contacts. Our results suggest that the type of predictors and the direction of associations depend on the type of health behavior considered. The role of specific emotional factors in addition to more classical predictors is discussed. The study offers new perspectives regarding the factors that are associated with the adherence to behaviors recommended to adopt when faced with a pandemic.

Take home message

1. Handwashing and the limitation of social contacts are underlined by different processes, which is evidenced by different patterns of predictors.
2. Sociodemographic aspects have to be taken into account to understand individual’s compliance with the measures.
3. Depending on the behavior aimed, intention, attitude, social norms and self-efficacy are keys component for the enforcement of governmental measures.
4. Both positive and negative emotions are related to the application of handwashing and social contact limitation, but with a different contribution.

Policy implications

1. Governmental communications need to focus on clarifying the beneficial impact of the recommended behaviors.
2. A clear and transparent communication is needed with the general public is needed, and should be directed toward the understanding of social norms related to the recommended behaviors
3. Different strategies need to be considered in order to increase adherence to the specific health behaviors as they are not associated with the same variables as everyday health behaviors.

Self-reported distress in French-speaking Belgium at the end of the lockdown period

Blekic, W., Wauthia, E. & Rossignol, M.

Short summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a recognized impact on the psychological well-being of the population. In particular, psychological distress might have been reinforced by uncertainty about the duration of the measures and the crisis. Accordingly, this study aimed to (1) measure self-reported distress in French-speaking Belgium after six weeks of strict application of lockdown and (2) explore the determinants of this distress by investigating a specific role of intolerance of uncertainty, which has been isolated as a transdiagnostic process involved in anxiety and adaptation disorders. To this aim, 548 participants completed an online survey including questions about demographical features (age, gender, education, etc.), COVID-19 personal impact, a French version of the Covid-19 Peritraumatic Distress Index (CPDI, Qiu et al., 2020), and the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale (Freeston et al., 1994). The global CPDI score was of 33.41 and fifty-four percent of the sample reported mild to severe psychological distress. As hypothesized, psychological distress was only predicted by intolerance of uncertainty. Our results highlight the rapidity with which the containment situation caused psychological distress and discuss intolerance to uncertainty as a predisposed personality trait as well as an inherent consequence of the pandemic situation.

Take home message

Policy implications

Under review

Generatie 2020: een follow-up studie

Braet, C. & Van Beveren, M.L.

Short summary

During the Covid-19 lockdown (April 2020), we questioned a sample of adolescents in one region in Belgium and concluded that one in three adolescents between the age of 15 and 21 suffered from (sub)clinical mental health problems. We could rely on a large-scale project entitled Generation 2020 – which was initiated in 2014 by our research group – and has been following a community sample (N=1655) in one region since 2014. Participants are now 15 to 21 years old. Based on online self-report questionnaires, we assessed (a) the number of life-stressors and perceived stress, (b) self- reported temperamental vulnerability (c) well-being. We hypothesized that a unique temperamental profile (constituting out of three traits) carries strong potential to predict mental health problems in response to stressors and more specific to Covid-19. Now we are conducting further in depth analyses testing a moderated mediation model using longitudinal structural equation modelling (SEM) with latent variables to analyse more closely the data. In February 2021 a new follow-up is planned.

Take home message

Policy implications

Paper submitted

The impact of Covid-19 on the PhD population at KU Leuven?

D'Agostini, M., Carra, G., Walentynowicz, M. & Vlaeyen, J.

Short summary

The outbreak of COVID-19 around the world led to the introduction of several restriction measures, including social distancing and the lock-down of research facilities. Whereas social distancing is effective to slow-down the spread of a pandemic, it strongly affects the social and working life of individuals. This project focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental well-being and work-related activities of PhD students population at KU Leuven. Since around 50% of PhD population at KU Leuven is international, we also explored the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on work-related social interactions assessing the likelihood of receiving comment on how the country of origin was handling the coronavirus and jokes about the coronavirus and their nationality by a person of another nationality.
Methods: 992 PhD students at KU Leuven completed an online survey in the period between 25/4/2020 and 3/5/2020.
Results: PhD students experienced a decline in mental health, lower work motivation, productivity, and satisfaction compared to before the outbreak. Students living alone had stronger decline in mental health compared to those living with others. Almost half (45%) of the respondent PhD students declared to have less contact with their supervisors. These students also reported worse motivation, satisfaction, and productivity as compared to the students that had regular contact with their supervisor. 77% indicated that the lockdown affected, at least to some extent, their research planning. The most affected research activities were conference organization/attendance, data collection, setting up experiments, and access to facilities/recourses. International PhD students reported worse motivation and satisfaction, but did not report worse work productivity when compared to Belgians. 40% of PhD students reported receiving a comment, half of them were international students. 10% of PhD students reported receiving a joke, of these, two out of three were international students.

Take home message

1. Living alone predicted stronger decline in mental health.
2. PhD Students with lower contact with the supervisor were at higher risk of poor work satisfaction, motivation, and productivity.
3. Internationals may be at higher risk of poor work satisfaction and motivation, but not productivity.
4. The majority of PhD students indicated that the lockdown affected their research activities/planning.

Policy implications

1. Designing a contact point for free and professional psychological support targeting PhD students;
2. Providing PhD students who live alone more freedom on where they want to telework.
3. Providing funding extension to PhD students whose research activities/planning has been mostly affected;
4. Allowing changes in the doctoral plan,
5. Changing regulation on minimal requirements to obtain PhD (e.g., reducing minimum number of studies).

writing in process

The impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing and cognitive functioning of older adults

De Pue, S., Gillebert, C., Dierckx, E., Vanderhasselt, M.A., De Raedt, R. & Van den Bussche, E.

Short summary

COVID-19 took a heavy toll on older adults. In Belgium, by the end of August, 93% of deaths due to COVID-19 were aged 65 or older. Similar trends were observed in other countries. As a consequence, older adults were identified as a group at risk, and strict governmental restrictions were imposed on them. This has caused concerns about their mental health. Using an online survey, this study established the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adults aged 65 years or older, and which factors moderate this impact. Participants reported a significant decrease in activity level, sleep quality and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Depression was strongly related to reported declines in activity level, sleep quality, wellbeing and cognitive functioning. Our study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on the mental health of older adults. This implies that this group at risk requires attention of governments and healthcare.

Take home message

1. The COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on the wellbeing, activity level and sleep quality of older adults.
2. Only a small group of participants reported a decline in cognitive functioning.
3. All changes reported during the COVID-19 period were strongly related to depression.

Policy implications

1. Concerns raised about the wellbeing of older adults are justified, and this group at risk requires the attention of governments and healthcare.
2. In the future, prevention and intervention strategies are needed to aid older adults to prepare for and cope with extreme stressors, such as COVID-19, especially for those at risk of depression. Psychological counselling could play an important in improving social skills in preventing loneliness and decreased wellbeing.
3. New ways need to be explored to reach older adults.
4. More attention needs to be devoted to the importance of maintaining strong social relationships (for example through social media usage and telephone contact) during major stressors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Media actions might help in stressing the importance of maintaining such interactions for older adults.

Psychosocial impact of covid-19 on refugees and migrants

Derluyn, I. & Verelst., A.

Short summary

Apart Together aims to uncover the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on refugees and migrants across the world. Quantitative data was collected from more than 30,000 respondents between April 2020 and October 2020, focusing on five categories: sociodemographic characteristics (1), COVID-19-related situations (2), daily stressors (3), mental health (4), and social well-being (5). The majority of the respondents reported a deterioration of daily stressors (i.e. access to work, safety, and financial means) and mental health (i.e. feelings of depression, worries, anxiety, and loneliness). In addition, over 60 % reported to follow preventive measures, such as covering their nose and mouth. Last, those that would not seek medical health care in case of suspected symptoms said this was mostly due to a lack of financial means and fear of deportation. The results clearly underline the need and importance of including refugees and migrants in policy responses to COVID‑19. Measures are needed to increase refugees’ and migrants’ access to multi-language information and to health services, both medical and psychological. Efforts need to be taken to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable groups, and to continue the provision of services - also in times of a pandemic.

Take home message

1. Almost one out of three refugees and migrants tested positive themselves or had a loved one who tested positive.
2. Not all would seek medical care in case of (suspected) COVID-19-infection, because of lack of financial means, fear of deportation, lack of availability of health care providers or entitlement to health care.
3. A large majority of refugees and migrants take precautions, to avoid COVID-19-infections, and follow the government-initiated preventive measures, especially increased handwashing, keeping physical distance and covering nose and mouth.
4. Those living on the street report more difficulty in following measures related to increased handwashing, while those living in a refugee camp or asylum center report more difficulties following rules regarding physical distancing.
5. Refugees and migrants rely on different sources of information about COVID-19 from the news, from friends and family and from social media, both in the home as in the host country.
6. NGOs and supporting organisations do play a key role in information provision on COVID-19 for certain groups and in certain regions.
7. The COVID-19-pandemic, including the government-initiated measures, have strongly impacted the lives, in all its domains, of all refugees and migrants. Overall ,they report a greater struggle with access to work, safety and financial means since the outbreak of COVID-19.
8. Most refugees and migrants report that depressive feelings, anxiety, worries and loneliness are seriously worsened since the COVID-19 outbreak and have a lot of worries related to COVID-19.
9. Having lost one’s income increases the likelihood for worsened mental health problems.
10. Thirteen to 17% of the refugees and migrants experience more discrimination because of their origin or religion than before the pandemic
11. The most effective strategies to feel better for respondents are staying in contact with family and friends, entertaining oneself, seeking information and meditating/praying.

Policy implications

1. Reduce language and financial barriers to seeking health care for refugees and migrants.
2. Targeted and accessible information for all.
3. Adress discrimination and stigmatization and actively focusing on sensitization campaigns ro rpevent it.
4. Improve daily living conditions for different groups of migrants and refugees, especially those living in more precarious situations, such as on the street or as undocumented migrants.
5. Ensure psychological support and foster connectedness for refugees and migrants during and after the pandemic.
6. Ensure participation of refugees and migrants as part of the solution in response plans for COVID-19

Impact of restriction of visits on mental health of nursing home residents

Dezutter, J.

Short summary

(DUTCH) De levensfase van de hoge leeftijd brengt veel uitdagingen, en ook verlieservaringen met zich mee. In dit onderzoek gaan we na hoe bewoners in WZC betekenis ervaren in hun leven, en hoe verlies van betekenis in het leven en existentiële eenzaamheid samenhangt met verminderde psychische gezondheid zichtbaar in bijvoorbeeld een toename in depressieve symptomen.

Take home message

Our findings encourage the extensive efforts made by care staff to implement new modes of social contact during challenging times. More frequent engagement in social connectedness interventions was associated with less loneliness and less depressed feelings in residents, and especially video-calling may be protective when real-life contact is impossible.
Continued activities with co-residents also provide important opportunities for social interaction, which may protect against feelings of loneliness.

Policy implications

1. Investment in elderly care personnel is highly needed to take up whole person care, including attention for psychological well-being
2. Safeguarding that residents are allowed to see at least one close contact is highly advised
3. Taking precautions so that a minimum of social activities (meal sharing, television watching) can continue even during a lockdown might be important to protect against loneliness

Investigating the complex interrelation between multimedia use and mental wellbeing at times of physical distancing

Faelens, L., Hoorelbeke, K., De Raedt, R & Koster, E.

Short summary

Results pertaining the effect of multimedia on mental health are mixed, suggesting that it may be important to take other factors into account. Research suggests that contextual factors may affect how and why people use multimedia, and how media use influences mental health. The coronavirus pandemic, which has led to unseen physical distancing measures around the globe, provides an interesting backdrop to study the influence of contextual variables. These measures may affect multimedia use and (dys)functioning in different ways, depending on personal or situational factors such as (a) housing condition, (b) quarantine status, (c) whether or not one (cohabits with someone that) is infected by COVID-19, or (d) at-risk for complications of COVID-19. Contextual influences on the relation between digital media use and indicators of (dys)functioning were examined in 1433 UK residents using network analyses and novel machine learning techniques. Our results showed that the interrelationships between multimedia use and mental health were at least partially contingent on personal contextual factors such as COVID-19 status of oneself or housemates, whether or not one was allowed to leave the house for work and whether or not one or one’s housemates belonged to a high-risk group.

Take home message

The complex interplay between media use and different indicators of wellbeing at times of physical distancing are impacted by context factors such as housing condition and at risk state for complications following infection from COVID-19.

Policy implications

Raise awareness regarding the role of multimedia to stay informed with measures taking to prevend the spread of COVID-19, as well as to stay connected with one's social network.

Under review

Psychological distress during the COVID-19 lockdown: The young adults most at risk

Glowacz, F. & Schmits, E.

Short summary

To control the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have implemented restrictions. This study evaluates psychological distress related to the crisis and identifies predictive factors of anxiety/depression according to age. 2,871 adults were recruited through an online questionnaire during the lockdown. Three subsamples were identified: 18–30; 30–50; > 50 years. The population suffers from anxiety and depression. Young adults reported lower levels of living space, occupational activity, social contact and alcohol use, but higher anxiety, depression and uncertainty than older participants. This psychological distress can be explained by lockdown conditions (differently according to age) and by intolerance to uncertainty. Also, youth's alcohol intake has decreased. Deconfinement strategies have been discussed.

Take home message

Young people are more sensitive to lockdown conditions and psychological distress

Policy implications

To propose clear guidelines for teachers to help them communicate with students, to offer access to infrastructure that will be conducive to their well-being, such free psychological consultations, and the promotion of access to sports and cultural centers.To provide public health warnings about the risk of excessive consumption in social contexts among young adults after lockdown

Is the media coverage of COVID-19 prejudiced?

Hoorens, V. & master's thesis students

Short summary

Inspired by earlier studies on gender and ethnic biases in media coverage of sports and politics, we analyze coverage in the written media (Newspapers) of the experiences and behaviors of different groups during the first and the second outbreak in Flanders (Spring and Autumn/Winter 2020). We will examine if different groups are differently represented in this coverage and if messages about them focus on different aspects of the pandemic (e.g., experiences vs. risk behavior, psychological vs. physical suffering). Such biases are often non-intentional, and those susceptible of them are often unaware that they exist. However, they may be consequential because the agenda of policy makers, public health officers and researchers, and influential interest groups is likely to be affected to some extent by their exposure to media coverage. Biases in it may thus contribute to unbalanced precautionary measures and even to blind spots in policy development. Moreover, biases in media coverage may affect social cohesion and (particularly if the messages are about risk behavior) threaten harmony between groups in society. Our project will raise awareness among media representatives about the possibility and potential consequences of biases in their coverage of COVID-19 just like in other domains.

Take home message

Given that gender and ethnic biases in media coverage of various topics are well-documented, there is reason to expect that they may occur in media coverage of COVID-19 as well.

Policy implications

Recommendation for journalists

Ongoing

Ironic side-effects of appeals to follow behavioral rules

Hoorens, V., Molenberghs, G., Verbeke, G., Demarest, S. & Deschrijver, E.

Short summary

We examine self-favoring biases in risk perception and in the appraisal of one’s own risk and precautionary behavior. Through a longitudinal study (data collection of the first wave almost being completed, target N = 5000) on a sample from the general population from all regions of Belgium we examine the effect of ‘errors’ in risk perception on the motivation to follow precautionary rules. In addition, we will in an online experiment test the hypothesis that there are situations where appeals meant to motivate people to comply with precautionary rules against COVID-19 ironically inflate precisely those biases that reduce compliance. Our project will thus yield specific and readily applicable solutions to achieve an urgently needed better compliance with precautionary measures.

Take home message

Systematic biases in people’s appraisal of risks and their own risk behavior exist; These biases discourage precautionary behavior and encourage risk behavior; Interventions meant to enhance compliance with precautionary rules and vaccination policies may ironically inflate biases; Interventions that are generally effective tools for behavior change may thus be counterproductive.

Policy implications

Persuasive messages should explicitly address widespread biases in people’s appraisals of their risks and risk behavior; Persuasive communication should avoid inadvertently enhancing biased risk perception.

Ongoing

Covidenik/Covidetmoi

Lorant, V., Smith, P., Seeber, K., Van den Broeck, K. & Nicaise, P.

Short summary

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, about two thirds of young people (aged 16 to 25 years old) experienced ‘mental distress’, which includes a broad range of non-specific mental health problems. While little difference was found between students and non-students or those with or without a chronic condition, mental distress was higher among women, those experiencing loneliness or low social support, and those with a large change in social media use and some everyday activities. Young people and women report lower mental health compared to men and older age groups even in normal conditions, but the pandemic seems to be contributing to an even growing inequality

Take home message

Young people experience high levels of mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings indicate that the mental distress was highest among women, those experiencing loneliness or low social support and those whose usual everyday life is most affected.

Policy implications

The psychological needs of young people, such as the need for peer interaction, should be more recognized and supported.

Psychological distress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and suppression measures during the first wave in Belgium

Lorant, V., Smith, P., Van den Broeck, K. & Nicaise, P.

Short summary

Background: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and its associated measures led to high levels of mental distress in the general population. Previous research indicated that young people are especially vulnerable for a wide range of mental health problems during the pandemic, but little is known about the mechanisms. This study examined mental distress and its contributing factors among young Belgian people.
Methods: An online survey was widely distributed in Belgium during the first wave of COVID-19 in March, and 16–25-year-olds were selected as a subsample. Mental distress was assessed using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), and a threshold of ≥4 was used to discriminate mental distress cases from non-cases. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate possible predictors of mental distress, including demographics, chronic condition, history of mental health problems, social support, exposure to COVID-19, and several changes in everyday activities.
Results: A total of 2,008 respondents were included, of which the majority was female (78.09%) and student (66.82%). The results indicate that about two thirds (65.49%) experienced mental distress. In the multivariable regression model, significant (p < 0.01) predictors of mental distress were female gender (OR = 1.78), low social support (OR = 2.17), loneliness (OR = 5.17), a small (OR = 1.63), or large (OR = 3.08) increase in social media use, a small (OR = 1.63) or large (OR = 2.17) decrease in going out for drinks or food, and a decrease in doing home activities (OR = 2.72).
Conclusion: Young people experience high levels of mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings indicate that mental distress was highest among women, those experiencing loneliness or low social support and those whose usual everyday life is most affected. The psychological needs of young people, such as the need for peer interaction, should be more recognized and supported.

Take home message

During the first wave and period of measurements, half of the people reported more psychological distress. General levels of distress are 2.3 fold of what is observed in non-covid-times. Women and youngsters were more at risk compared to men and older groups, was were respondents that were exposed to COVID-19.

Policy implications

Policy makers should therefore be aware of the potential disadvantages of confinement in terms of mental health, and develop strategies to mitigate the adverse consequences of the measures.

Alcohol consumption / drinking motivations during lockdown

Maurage, P., Bollen, Z. & Pabst, A.

Short summary

The global outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the resulting lockdown measures have raised concerns regarding their effect on alcohol consumption. We investigated alcohol use during lockdown in a population of college students, usually characterized by social and heavy drinking. We also tested the predictive role of pre-lockdown drinking motives on alcohol consumption during lockdown. We collected data from 1951 French-speaking Belgian students during the lockdown period (April 1st – May 3rd, 2020) through a cross-sectional online survey. Participants self-reported their daily alcohol consumption (1) during a typical week in normal circumstances (i.e., before lockdown), and (2) since lockdown onset. We also assessed drinking motives and severity of alcohol use before lockdown. Our findings showed that 68.2% of the sample reported a lower alcohol consumption during lockdown compared to before lockdown, 17.2% conversely reporting a higher consumption. Enhancement, social and coping motives were all associated with heavy drinking before lockdown. Enhancement and social motives predicted lower alcohol consumption during lockdown among heavy drinkers. Conversely, coping motives, as well as social motives among low drinkers, predicted higher consumption during lockdown. Conformity motives, as well as enhancement motives among low and moderate drinkers, did not predict alcohol consumption before or during lockdown. Overall, several pre-lockdown drinking motives reliably predicted alcohol consumption during lockdown and could thus be used to identify at-risk populations and to tailor intervention programs on alcohol misuse during sanitary crises.

Take home message

We examined how drinking motives predict alcohol consumption under lockdown
College students substantially reduced consumption during lockdown
This reduction was particularly high among heavy drinkers
Enhancement and social motives predicted lower consumption during lockdown
Conversely, coping motives predicted higher consumption during lockdown

Policy implications

Since drinking motives predict consumption, their assessment could reduce the impact of future crises on alcohol use, by acting upstream at prevention (e.g., psychoeducation on alternative coping strategies) and clinical (e.g., prophylactic interventions towards individuals endorsing coping motives) levels.

An integrated COVID-19 threat framework: General and immigrant-specific threat appraisals from an intergroup perspective

Politi, E., Lueaders, A., Roblain, A., Spiritys-Beerden, E., Anderson, J., Van Assche, J., Sankaran, S., Green, E., Derluyn, I., Verelst, A., De Jonghe, S. & Phalet, K.

Short summary

The COVID-19 constitutes an unprecedented threat for individuals, communities, and entire societies, revealing intergroup inequalities in preparedness, exposure, and consequences. The present review completes extant knowledge on natural disasters and pandemic diseases with original cross-cultural and programmatic empirical research, to propose an integrated COVID-19 threat framework. Building up on a broad definition of threat that comprises individual, collective and socio-structural components, we merge micro-level analyses to group dynamics and intergroup relations. First, we conduct a literature review using streamlined methods of knowledge synthesis to distinguish between threats appraised by the general public and specific threats appraised by immigrants, refugees, and ethnic minorities. Second, we outline the social-psychological processes that from threat appraisals fuel either conflict or prosociality within and across groups. To conclude, we identify moderating factors to prevent or reduce social conflicts as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, promoting instead collective forms of resilience, social support and helping behaviours.

Take home message

Policy implications

Under review

No man is an island: Psychological underpinnings of prosociality in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak

Politi, E., Van Assche, J., Caprara, G.V. & Phalet, K.

Short summary

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, sustainable forms of collective resilience help societies coping cohesively with unprecedented challenges. In our empirical contribution, we framed collective resilience and cohesion in terms of prosociality. A study carried out in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK (N = 399) articulated basic individual values, ideological orientations (i.e., authoritarianism and social dominance orientation), and core political values in a comprehensive framework to predict bonding and bridging forms of prosocial intentions, and prosocial behaviors directed towards vulnerable groups. According to our findings, people whose worldview incorporates collective and collaborative principles cared more about others’ welfare. Jointly, self- transcendence, equality, and accepting immigrants predicted more prosociality, whereas social dominance orientation predicted less prosociality. Over and beyond all other predictors, self-transcendence uniquely pre- dicted prosocial intentions and behaviors alike. To conclude, we suggest interventions to promote and sustain prosociality among people motivated by a larger array of life goals and worldviews.

Take home message

Policy implications

Mental Distress and Its Contributing Factors Among Young People During the First Wave of COVID-19: A Belgian Survey Study

Rens, E., Smith, P., Nicaise, P., Lorant, V. & Van den Broeck, K.

Short summary

Background: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and its associated measures led to high levels of mental distress in the general population. Previous research indicated that young people are especially vulnerable for a wide range of mental health problems during the pandemic, but little is known about the mechanisms. This study examined mental distress and its contributing factors among young Belgian people.

Methods: An online survey was widely distributed in Belgium during the first wave of COVID-19 in March, and 16–25-year-olds were selected as a subsample. Mental distress was assessed using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), and a threshold of ≥4 was used to discriminate mental distress cases from non-cases. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate possible predictors of mental distress, including demographics, chronic condition, history of mental health problems, social support, exposure to COVID-19, and several changes in everyday activities.

Results: A total of 2,008 respondents were included, of which the majority was female (78.09%) and student (66.82%). The results indicate that about two thirds (65.49%) experienced mental distress. In the multivariable regression model, significant (p < 0.01) predictors of mental distress were female gender (OR = 1.78), low social support (OR = 2.17), loneliness (OR = 5.17), a small (OR = 1.63), or large (OR = 3.08) increase in social media use, a small (OR = 1.63) or large (OR = 2.17) decrease in going out for drinks or food, and a decrease in doing home activities (OR = 2.72).

Conclusion: Young people experience high levels of mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings indicate that mental distress was highest among women, those experiencing loneliness or low social support and those whose usual everyday life is most affected. The psychological needs of young people, such as the need for peer interaction, should be more recognized and supported.

Take home message

Up to two thirds of the youngsters experienced elevated levels of psychological distress during the first wave of covid-19 and associated measures. Women, people with less social support, those who reported higher levels of loneliness and changes in the use of social media or behavioural patterns are more at risk.

Policy implications

Policy makers should therefore more recognize and support the psychological needs of young people, such as peer interaction.

Moderators of the impact of the lockdown on parental distress

Roskam, I. & Mikolajczak, M

Short summary

Identification of the situational and psychological moderators of the impact of the lockdown on parental distress

Take home message

The health crisis and lockdown does not impact all parents in the same way: it is a godsend for some, a nightmare for others. à PB can increase in any type of family and in any parent. What really influences the level of PB and the resulting child abuse is the parents' perception of the impact of the health crisis and lockdown on their parenting. à Certain situations deserve special attention: lockdown with young children, children with special needs or young adults... And parents who are teleworking AND facing increased workload because of the crisis.

Policy implications

1. Putting support services in place for families with children with disabilities or behavioral problems
2. Establish support services for families with children under the age of 4 (these children cannot look after themselves and their constant solicitations contribute to exhaustion of the parents and encourage acting out)
3. Putting in place supports for adolescents so that their frustration at being confined or semi-confined does not "backfire" on their parents.
4. Asking employers to take steps to prevent increased workloads due to crisis or containment (having to telecommute AND care for children or teenagers at home is much more complicated when workloads increase)
5. For employers:aking active steps to prevent increased workloads due to crisis or containment (having to telecommute AND care for children or teenagers at home is much more complicated when workloads increase)
6. For Media: à do not focus only on the negative aspects of the crisis but also on the opportunities (our research shows that subjective perception explains most of the variance of psychological distress during confinement, far beyond the objective situation of the parent and his family).

Ongoing

Changes in Alcohol use during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact of the Lockdown Conditions and Mental Health Factors

Schmits, E. & Glowacz, F.

Short summary

Take home message

Half of the population change their drinking pattern, due to lockdown conditions and anxiodepressive symptoms.

Policy implications

To implement alcohol prevention strategies in the context of health crisis.

Effect of the Belgian coast on well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic

Severin, M., Vandegehuchte, M., Everaert, G., Buysse, A. & Raes, F.

Short summary

Having access to the coast in times of crisis serves as a potential buffer against negative psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The emotion of awe could be a protective factor against boredom.

Take home message

Promote the use and access of the coast to reduce boredom and worry and increase happiness. Encourage people to focus on their emotions, such as awe, while being at the coast.

Policy implications

Under review

COVID-19 and children: emotional and behavioral impact

Stassart, C., Wagener, A. & Etienne, A-M.

Short summary

This exploratory study assesses parents' perception of the emotional and behavioral impact of quarantine following Covid-19 on their child aged between 4 and 13 years old. The total sample includes the assessment of 749 children, aged between 4 and 13 (353 girls, 396 boys) with 524 parents interviewed. The emotional and behavioral changes observed in their child during quarantine, family coexistence, as well as the frequency of social contact before and during quarantine were investigated. Most parents report a change in their child's emotional and behavioral state. The main results show that the child's nervousness due to Covid-19, family coexistence during quarantine which represents the difficulty of living together, and social contacts before and during quarantine seem to explain the different emotional and behavioral changes observed in children during quarantine.

Take home message

Take care of family cohesion: through repeated evaluation, difficulties in living together within the family to act early (eg: take time for yourself, pass the baton momentarily, ...) - Maintain social contacts: social ties improve a child's resilience skills in complex situations. Creative approaches to stay connected are therefore very important (eg writing letters, video conversations, etc.) - Create a secure emotional environment: Importance of maintaining a routine to give children a sense of security and predictability such as setting regular bed and mealtimes, daily learning and play times.

Policy implications

Have appropriate communication: Faced with children's concerns and questions, it is important to have honest communication that is appropriate to the child's age. Children's exposure to social media and adult conversations about the pandemic should be limited as these channels are less age appropriate.

Under review

To Punish or to Assist? Divergent Reactions to In-group and Out-group Members Disobeying Social Distancing

Van Assche, J., Politi, E., Van Dessel, P., & Phalet, K.

Short summary

In response to the COVID‐19 pandemic, societies face the formidable challenge of developing sustainable forms of sociability‐cumsocial‐distancing – enduring social life while containing the virus and preventing new outbreaks. Accordant public policies often balance between retributive (punishment‐based) and assistance (solidarity‐based) measures to foster responsible behaviour. Yet, the uncontrolled spreading of the disease has divided public opinion about which measures are best suited, and it has made salient group disparities in behaviour, potentially straining intergroup relations, elevating heated emotions, and undercutting coordinated international responses. In a 2 × 2 between‐subjects experiment, British citizens (N = 377) read about national in‐group or outgroup members (categorical differentiation), who were either conforming to or deviating from the corona regulations (normative differentiation). Participants then reported moral emotions towards the target national group and indicated support for public policies. In general, support for assistance policies outweighed support for retributive measures. Second, however, norm deviation was associated with less positive and more negative moral emotions, the latter category further relating to more punitiveness and less assistance support. Finally, respondents who read about norm‐violating outgroup members especially reported support for retributive measures, indicating that people might use norm deviation to justify outgroup derogation. We discuss implications for policymakers and formulate future research avenues.

Take home message

1. In general, people are more in favor of assistance (solidarity-based) confinement measures, because retributive (punishment-based) policies go against core democratic values such as personal freedom.
2. News reports about norm-deviating groups trigger negative emotions (e.g., anger, condemnation, disgust), which can cause support for retributive measures.
3. Support for retributive measures was highest when people read news about norm-violating foreigners, indicating that people might blame foreigners for spreading the virus rather than fellow nationals that disobey hygiene standards and social distancing.

Policy implications

Adherence to Covid-19 Measures: The Critical Role of Voluntary Motivation on a Short- and Long-Term Basis

Vansteenkiste, M. et al.

Short summary

To limit the spreading of the SARS-CoV-2-virus, governments worldwide have introduced much-needed, yet often intrusive, measures that require considerable effort from their citizens. Grounded in Self-Determination Theory, the present research sought to examine in a very large and heterogeneous sample of Belgian citizens the cross-sectional (N = 45975, Mage = 50.42; Study 1), week-to-week (N = 981, Mage = 41.32; Study 2), and long-term (N = 5643, Mage = 53.09; Study 3) associations between individuals’ various motives to follow government guidelines and their self-reported adherence and defiance to these measures. Controlling for covid-specific worry and perceived risk for infection, identified motivation related positively to citizens’ concurrent adherence (Study 1), their increased week-to-week adherence during the lockdown (Study 2), and their persistent adherence during an exit phase (Study 3). An opposite pattern of findings emerged with defiance as an outcome. In contrast, although the unique contribution of external motivation was less strong, it related to poorer adherence and greater defiance, both concurrently (Study 1) and longitudinally (Study 3). The findings indicate that citizens’ voluntary motivation is a robust predictor of adherence, suggesting that policy makers do well to adopt a motivating style that ongoingly fosters internalized motivation.

Take home message

1. Fostering voluntary responsibility to adhere to the measures is critical
2. Pressured motivation does not predict adherence and even backfires, as indicated by elevated defiance
3. Motivational processes are dynamic, varying from week to week
4. Risk perceptions do contribute to higher voluntary motivation
5. Worry is not a good predictor of adherence

Policy implications

1. Avoid pressuring communication
2. Explain the necessity and impact of measures on flattening the curve
3. Maintain high risk awareness, for instance, through the traffic light system or the corona footprint
4. Avoid anxiety-induction, especially if people are not capable to handle the worry

Under review

Do Psychological Needs Play a Role in Times of Uncertainty? Associations with Well-being During the Covid-19 Crisis

Vansteenkiste, M. et al.

Short summary

Across the world, measures were taken to contain the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. Many of these measures caused a sudden rupture in people’s daily routines, thereby eliciting considerable uncertainty and potentially also hampering the satisfaction of individuals’ psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Drawing upon Maslow’s Hierarchical Need Theory and Self-Determination Theory, this study examined the unique roles of felt uncertainty and the psychological needs, as well as their dynamic interplay, in the prediction of mental health. A large and heterogeneous sample of adults (N = 5118; Mage = 43.45 years) was collected during the first ten days of the lockdown period in [details removed for peer review]. A subsample (N = 835, Mage = 41.39) participated during a second wave one week later. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that felt uncertainty, need satisfaction and need frustration all independently predicted individuals’ well-being (life satisfaction, sleep quality) and ill-being (depressive symptoms, anxiety), with little systematic evidence for interactions between the predictors. The pattern of findings obtained concurrently largely held in the longitudinal analyses. Finally, results showed that associations between felt insecurity and lower well-being were partially mediated by psychological needs. Overall, the findings suggest that satisfaction of the psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness is not just a ‘luxury good’. Satisfaction of these needs is important also in times of uncertainty, while need frustration represents a risk factor for maladjustment during these times.

Take home message

1. Insecurity is an independent source of especially ill-being; in attachment also a graph which shows that the unpredictable character of the situation is most elevated (more than financial & health-related insecurities)
2. Investing in psychological need satisfaction is critical to replenish individuals’ energetic resources
3. Early adults are more vulnerable for ill-being and need frustrations

Policy implications

1. Invest in a traffic light system to enhance predictability of the situation
2. Build a social project to foster higher relatedness need satisfaction
3. Avoid too restrictive measures that unnecessarily reduce our autonomy
4. Invest in on-line programs that foster greater need satisfaction (we are currently developing such a tool)
5. Create a ‘coronahulplijn’ as the complaints of individuals will often deal with these basic issues (insecurity, autonomy, competence, relatedness)

Under Review

Impact of covid-19 lockdown on employees' work-family balance, social support, and burnout

Vullinghs, J., Vantilborgh, T. & Driver, C.

Short summary

Early 2020, the world was shocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. To stop the spread of the virus and alleviate pressure on healthcare systems, governments took measures such as the complete lockdown of cities and states. However, the side effects of these measures are not yet well understood. In this study we examine the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on employee wellbeing and specifically address the time course of these effects. We contribute to the literature by demonstrating that the COVID-19 lockdown was experienced as a stressor by the participants in our study, while demonstrating the rate of change and duration of these effects on employee wellbeing. Moreover, we test the causal order of the dimensions underlying burnout, thus contributing by showing how burnout develops over time. We tested our hypotheses in a sample of 120 employees, who’s work experiences we measured weekly over 35 weeks. We analyzed these data using Hierarchical Bayesian Continuous Time Dynamic Modeling (Driver & Voelkle, 2018a). Our results show that the lockdown has both positive and negative effects on employees’ wellbeing, yet the negative effects of the COVID-19 lockdown increase over the measured time period. Moreover, our results reveal complex feedback loops between the burnout dimensions, with emotional exhaustion driving increases in cynicism and decreases in professional efficacy, while cynicism simultaneously acted as an inhibitor by increasing professional efficacy.

Take home message

We find that the lockdown led to an increase in work-to-life spillover, a decrease in resources, and had a mixed impact on burnout symptoms (increase in cynicism and decrease in exhaustion). These effects worsened as the lockdown continued.

Policy implications

Governments need to carefully balance the need for a lockdown against the potential consequences on the wellbeing of employees.

Ongoing

The Role of Ego Integrity and Despair in Older Adults’ Well-being during the Covid-19 Crisis: The Mediating Role of Need-based Experiences

van der Kaap-Deeder, J., Vermote, B., Waterschoot, J., Soenens, B., Morbée, S. & Vansteenkiste, M.

Short summary

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people across the world, with older adults being particularly at risk for the negative (side) effects associated with this crisis. Relying on a cross-fertilization between Erikson’s personality theory and Self-Determination Theory, this study aimed to examine possible sources of resilience (i.e., ego integrity and need satisfaction) and vulnerability (i.e., despair and need frustration) in older adults’ (mal)adjustment, thereby additionally considering the role of multiple risk and protective factors (e.g., gender and marital status). During the second month of the lockdown period in Belgium, 693 older adults (Mage = 70.06, SD = 4.48, range: 65 – 89 years, 62.1% female) filled out online questionnaires concerning the study variables, while also completing assessments of several important sociodemographic factors. Structural equation modeling showed that both ego integrity and despair related to indicators of well-being and ill-being through experienced need satisfaction and need frustration. Additionally, we found several factors to protect (e.g., higher perceived income) or diminish (e.g., being widowed) older adults’ well-being during these challenging times, with little evidence for a moderating role of these factors in associations between the psychological variables. Theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.

Take home message

1. Ego-integrity and despair serve as resilience and vulnerability factors to handle this crisis
2. Psychological need satisfactions (autonomy, competence, relatedness) are also critical in this group
3. Especially single are more vulnerable for ill-being, while those having access to a larger set of communication tools are better protected against loneliness

Policy implications

1. Provide assistance to elderly to be more skilled in using diverse communication strategies (whatsapp, skype, etc.)
2. Investing in need satisfactions among elderly and in homes for older adults is critical, partially through relaxations of the measures but also other need-satisfying activities
3. The current crisis may lead older individuals to engage in a life review, which may be fairly confrontational for some, thereby eliciting despair. Psychological assistance may touch upon this issue.