Title

Exposure to COVID-19 News and Its Relation to Stress, Depression, and Anxiety in the Context of Difficulty in Accessing Social Support

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-18-2022

Abstract

Background

Past literature showed an increase in the tendency to seek out news media information when social connections are strained. In general, news exposure has been linked to a mix of both positive and negative outcomes, such as heightened protective behaviors, feelings of reassurance, lower uncertainty, and an increase in stress and anxiety. However, its impact on individuals living in communities under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to be explored.

Aims

This study contributes to the existing literature by exploring the effects of COVID-19-related news exposure on mental health outcomes (such as depression and anxiety) for people living in areas that are under community lockdown.

Methods

Using purposive sampling, 435 Filipinos under community quarantine were surveyed. The structural model of the relations between exposure to COVID-19-related news, difficulty accessing social support, stress, depression, and anxiety was tested via ML estimation with Robust specification using EQS 6.3 software. Social support access was hypothesized to have a moderating role in the impact of COVID-19 news exposure on stress.

Results

The results showed an adequately fit model. Results show that higher exposure to news related to COVID-19 led to lower levels of stress, especially for those who were having more difficulty accessing social support. In turn, lesser stress was shown to lead to lesser symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Conclusions

This research illustrates the modest, positive impact news exposure has on mental health outcomes, particularly for individuals who may have difficulty accessing social support due to lockdown measures. In situations where social connectedness and access to social support becomes strained, accessing news can be one way to reduce distress among individuals in lockdown and quarantine.

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