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Title: Shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychological responses from a subjective perspective-A longitudinal mixed-methods study across five European countries
Authors: Zrnić Novaković, Irina
Ajduković, Dean
Bakić, Helena
Borges, Camila 
Figueiredo-Braga, Margarida 
Lotzin, Annett
Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous, Xenia
Lioupi, Chrysanthi
Javakhishvili, Jana Darejan
Tsiskarishvili, Lela
Lueger-Schuster, Brigitte
Issue Date: 2023
Serial title, monograph or event: PLoS ONE
Volume: 18
Issue: 4
Abstract: Background Contextual factors are essential for understanding long-term adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the present study investigated changes in mental health outcomes and subjective pandemic-related experiences over time and across countries. The main objective was to explore how psychological responses vary in relation to individual and environmental factors. Methods The sample consisted of N = 1070 participants from the general population of Austria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, and Portugal. We applied a longitudinal mixed-methods approach, with baseline assessment in summer and autumn 2020 (T1) and follow-up assessment 12 months later (T2). Qualitative content analysis by Mayring was used to analyse open-ended questions about stressful events, positive and negative aspects of the pandemic, and recommendations on how to cope. Mental health outcomes were assessed with the Adjustment Disorder–New Module 8 (ADNM-8), the Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD- 5), the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2), and the 5-item World Health Organization Well-Being Index (WHO-5). The analyses were performed with SPSS Statistics Version 26 and MAXQDA 2022. Results The mental health outcomes significantly differed over time and across countries, with e.g. Greek participants showing decrease in adjustment disorder symptoms (p = .007) between T1 and T2. Compared with other countries, we found better mental health outcomes in the Austrian and the Croatian sample at both timepoints (p < .05). Regarding qualitative data, some themes were equally represented at both timepoints (e.g. Restrictions and changes in daily life), while others were more prominent at T1 (e.g. Work and finances) or T2 (e.g. Vaccination issues). Conclusions Our findings indicate that people’s reactions to the pandemic are largely shaped by the shifting context of the pandemic, country-specific factors, and individual characteristics and circumstances. Resource-oriented interventions focusing on psychological flexibility might promote resilience and mental health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises.
ISSN: 1932-6203
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0285078
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D CES - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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