Anticipated mental health consequences of COVID-19 in a nationally-representative sample: Context, coverage, and economic consequences

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Alexis Merdjanoff, Gabriella Meltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic will have long-term consequences due to social and economic disruption. This study aimed to understand the contextual, media, and economic factors associated with anticipated mental health consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic among Americans. A nationally representative survey of 1001 respondents was conducted in April 2020. Chi-square tests and logistic regressions examined anticipated emotional or psychological effects on respondents or members of their households should social distancing measures continue. Specific analyses focused on: 1) COVID-19 experience - knowing someone or being infected; living in a state with a high death rate; or state social distancing policies; 2) media exposure - source of coronavirus information and time spent on coronavirus news; and 3) economics - current economic effects; and anticipated long-term financial effects. 41% of respondents anticipated mental health consequences. Living in a state with a greater COVID-19 death rate (OR 1.73; 95% CI 1.10, 2.72) and anticipating long-term financial difficulties (OR 2.98; 95% CI 1.93, 4.60) were both associated with greater likelihood of anticipated mental health consequences. Those whose primary news source was television, as opposed to print or online, were almost 50% less likely to anticipate mental health challenges (OR 0.52 CI 0.33, 0.81), while those who reported spending two or more hours daily on COVID-19 news were 90% more likely (OR 1.90; 95% CI 1.27, 2.85). Aspects of community health, media consumption, and economic impacts influence anticipated poor mental health from the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting each domain is relevant to interventions to address the consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106441
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Communications media
  • Economic status
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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