Author(s): Abhinand S1, Dr. Sarada K2, Dr. Radha Rani S3
The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in India led to an extraordinary threat to public health and mental wellbeing. As the cases rise exponentially every day, there is uncertainty in the minds of the public, leading to stress and anxiety about catching the infection themselves and by their loved ones.
This survey aims to study the amount of stress and anxiety-related symptoms in people due to the current coronavirus outbreak and examine the various variables contributing to it, including the sociodemographic factors and the effect of media exposure.
An Internet-based cross-sectional study was conducted from 6th September to 9th September. A total of 302 individuals participated in the study. Individuals were asked to fill a questionnaire with a series of questions, which included sociodemographic data, the amount of media exposure, and stress and anxiety-related symptoms due to the virus. These symptoms were assessed using the COVID Stress Scale. It has six domains to assess the health-related distress, including (1) Fears about the dangerousness of COVID-19, (2) fears about sources of COVID-19-related contamination, (3) COVID-19-xenophobia, (4) fears about the social, and economic consequences of COVID-19, (5) COVID-19-related checking, and (6) traumatic stress symptoms related to COVID-19. Relationships among the variables were examined using correlation analysis.
There is a significant positive correlation between the number of hours spent watching online news, online videos, and news updates on social media and distress related to COVID-19. Viewing stressful content such as the severity of the disease outbreak, and active media engagement is associated with negative psychological outcomes.
The study suggested new media use, and more media engagement was associated with negative psychological outcomes. It also suggests that limiting the time spent engaged in social media and reducing viewing of stressful content may minimize adverse psychological outcomes.