Risk Perception and Coping Strategies Affected Mental Health Problems During COVID-19 Pandemic

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For this study, adults who lived in 30 Chinese cities were recruited between February and April of 2020 to complete surveys about their mental health during COVID-19.

Mental health problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were observed to be mediated through risk perception and coping strategies. These findings, from a cross-sectional study, were published in Personality and individual Differences.

Adults (N=618) who lived in 30 cities in China were recruited between February and April of 2020 to complete surveys about their mental health during COVID-19. The survey utilized the Psychological Questionnaires for Emergent Events of Public Health (PQEEPH), the Public Risk Perception Scale for Public Health Emergencies (PRPS), the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES), and the Simplified Coping Style Questionnaire (SCSQ).

The participants were mostly women (n=501) aged mean 22.7 (standard deviation [SD], 4.9) years.

Few participants were at medium or high risk for depression (8.6% and 6.5%), neurasthenia (7.9% and 4.9%), fear (10.4% and 3.2%), compulsion/anxiety (8.9% and 4.9%), or hypochondria (7.9% and 4.7%), respectively.

Stratified by gender, significant differences were reported for self-efficacy (P <.001), total risk perception (P =.006), severity of health effects (P =.020), severity of pandemic (P =.025), likelihood of risk (P =.035), and active coping (P =.036).

Risk perception was positively correlated with fear (r, 0.39; P <.001), neurasthenia (r, 0.22; P <.001), compulsion/anxiety (r, 0.20; P <.001), hypochondriasis (r, 0.20; P <.001), passive coping (r, 0.18; P <.001), and depression (r, 0.16; P <.001) and negatively correlated with self-efficacy (r, -0.13; P <.01).

Self-efficacy was negatively correlated with neurasthenia (r, -0.25; P <.001), compulsion/anxiety (r, -0.20; P <.001), depression (r, -0.19; P <.001), fear (r, -0.12; P <.001), and hypochondriasis (r, -0.09; P <.05).

Self-efficacy had an indirect, mediating effect on risk perception (b, -0.02; 95% CI, -0.045 to -0.002) and active coping (b, -0.13; 95% CI, -0.171 to -0.092).

This study was likely biased by its imbalanced study cohort and significant gender differences.

The study authors concluded mental health problems among young adults were likely mediated through risk perception and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Zhou C, Yue XD, Zhang X, Shangguan F, Zhang XY. Self-efficacy and mental health problems during COVID-19 pandemic: A multiple mediation model based on health belief model. Pers Individ Differ. 2021;179:110893. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2021.110893