Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on stress and emotional reactions in Israel: a mixed-methods study.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact worldwide. This study sought to assess the pandemic’s psychological impact on the Israeli public.Using mixed methods we assessed Israeli adults during the COVID-19 outbreak. In the quantitative study, participants (N=1407) completed an online battery of measures assessing psychological variables and perceived threat related to COVID-19. Statistical analyses included tests for between-group differences and Pearson correlations. The qualitative study entailed in-depth, semistructured interviews conducted by telephone (N=38).The quantitative findings indicate that about 48% of the public had negative emotional reactions and 20% perceived they were liable to contract the virus. Moreover, a positive correlation was found between these feelings and the degree of perceived threat. Three major themes emerged from the qualitative study: 1) a sense of shock and chaos; 2) gradual adjustment to the new reality; and 3) fears and concerns for self and family members. The study’s results revealed the following sources of participants’ emotional responses and sense of threat: health concerns regarding themselves and their loved ones; employment concerns; problems with children and spouses caused by being together at home; and difficulties entailed in working at home.The study reveals many of the psychological variables and perceived threats related to COVID-19 in Israel. While social distancing may make people feel safer, it can also increase their feelings of isolation, stress and frustration and cause difficulties in many life situations. The findings point to the necessity of addressing the public’s perceived susceptibility and emotional reactions about COVID-19.

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