The psychological typhoon eye effect during the COVID-19 outbreak in China: the role of coping efficacy and perceived threat

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Abstract

Background: The influence of COVID-19 on mental health problems has received considerable attention. However, only a few studies have examined the relationship between exposure to COVID-19 and mental health problems, and no empirical study has tested the mechanisms between them. Methods: We conducted a survey in 31 provinces of China during 3–13 March 2020 to test the effect of the exposure level on mental health problems. Our sample comprised 2987 participants who reported their perceived threat, coping efficacy, mental health problems and other demographic variables. Multiple mediators path analysis was used in the data analysis. Results: The results showed that the level of exposure to COVID-19 in China was negatively associated with mental health problems, which confirmed the “Psychological Typhoon Eye” effect. Further analyses indicated that both perceived threat and coping efficacy partially mediated the relationship between them. However, coping efficacy explained the “Psychological Typhoon Eye” effect. Perceived threat mediated the positive relationship between exposure level and mental health problems. Conclusion: This study detected the psychological typhoon eye effect and demonstrated the mediating role of coping efficacy and perceived threat between exposure to COVID-19 and mental health problems. Our findings suggest that policy makers and psychological workers should provide enough psychological services to low-risk areas as the high-risk areas. An important means of alleviating mental health problems is to improve coping efficacy.

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Zhang, L., Ma, M., Li, D., & Xin, Z. (2020). The psychological typhoon eye effect during the COVID-19 outbreak in China: the role of coping efficacy and perceived threat. Globalization and Health, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00626-8

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