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Pandemic-Related Stress Associated With PTSD Symptoms Months Later

March 22, 2021

Stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may be a strong predictor of later symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in black Americans and people with mixed ancestry, according to a study presented in a poster at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America 2021 Virtual Conference.

Researchers recruited participants (N = 116) from Detroit, Michigan and interviewed them remotely about the COVID-19-related stress they had experienced. The COVID Community Stress Index (CovComm) was used at baseline and the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) and the Traumatic Experience Inventory (TEI) were used at a 3-month follow-up.

The majority of the participants identified as female (n = 98); 82 participants self-identified as black Americans and 34 said they had mixed ancestry.

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Using a linear regression to control for demographic data and trauma history, the study team found a positive association between baseline reported COVID-19 stress and greater PSTD symptoms reported at 3-month follow-up. They determined COVID-related stress accounted for 13.4% of the variance in PTSD symptoms, above other traumatic events.

“These findings suggest that COVID-19 associated stressors in both black Americans and mixed ancestry can be robustly predictive of PTSD symptoms 3 months later even when controlling for other traumas and demographics,” researchers wrote.

“These data may contribute to the understanding of health disparities in the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. Future work should examine relations to neurobiology and focus on factors that may mitigate this association and potentially reduce the onset and duration of PTSD symptoms.”

—Terri Airov


Davie WM, Stenson AF, Reda M, et al. A crisis within the pandemic: COVID-19 associated stress predicting post traumatic stress disorder symptomology. Poster presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America 2021 Virtual Conference; March 18-19, 2021; Virtual.

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