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Social alignment matters: Following pandemic guidelines is associated with better wellbeing

Tunçgenç, Bahar, Newson, Martha, Sulik, Justin, Zhao, Yi, Dezecache, Guillaume, Deroy, Ophelia, Zein, Marwa El (2022) Social alignment matters: Following pandemic guidelines is associated with better wellbeing. BMC Public Health, 22 (1). Article Number 821. ISSN 1471-2458. (doi:10.1186/s12889-022-13130-y) (KAR id:94941)

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Background: In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, most countries implemented physical distancing measures. Many mental health experts warned that through increasing social isolation and anxiety, these measures could negatively afect psychosocial wellbeing. However, socially aligning with others by adhering to these measures may also be benefcial for wellbeing.

Methods: We examined these two contrasting hypotheses using cross-national survey data (N=6675) collected fortnightly from participants in 115 countries over 3 months at the beginning of the pandemic. Participants reported their wellbeing, perceptions of how vulnerable they were to Covid-19 (i.e., high risk of infection) and how much they, and others in their social circle and country, were adhering to the distancing measures.

Results: Linear mixed-efects models showed that being a woman, having lower educational attainment, living alone and perceived high vulnerability to Covid-19 were risk factors for poorer wellbeing. Being young (18–25) was associated with lower wellbeing, but longitudinal analyses showed that young people’s wellbeing improved over 3 months. In contrast to widespread views that physical distancing measures negatively afect wellbeing, results showed that following the guidelines was positively associated with wellbeing even for people in high-risk groups.

Conclusions: These fndings provide an important counterpart to the idea that pandemic containment measures such as physical distancing negatively impacted wellbeing unequivocally. Despite the overall burden of the pandemic on psychosocial wellbeing, social alignment with others can still contribute to positive wellbeing. The pandemic has manifested our propensity to adapt to challenges, particularly highlighting how social alignment can forge resilience.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1186/s12889-022-13130-y
Uncontrolled keywords: Wellbeing, Mental health, Pandemic adherence, Social distancing, Social alignment, Covid-19 lockdown
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Martha Newson
Date Deposited: 09 May 2022 09:44 UTC
Last Modified: 09 May 2022 09:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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