How does COVID Stress vary across the anxiety-related disorders? Assessing factorial invariance and changes in COVID Stress Scale scores during the pandemic.

Authored by: Gordon J. G. Asmundson, Geoffrey Rachor, Dalainey H. Drakes, Blake A.E. Boehme, Michelle M. Paluszek, and Steven Taylor

No studies to date have examined whether levels of COVID stress vary across anxiety-related disorders. Our research addressed this concern and assessed whether COVID stress changed from the first to third wave in those with anxiety or mood-related disorders and those with no mental health conditions. Data was obtained during the COVID-19 pandemic from two independent survey time points where adults from Canada and the US were assessed approximately 1 year apart. The five COVID Stress Scales were reliable and five-factor structure was stable across samples. Higher COVID Stress cores were observed in people with anxiety or mood-related disorders and specifically amongst individuals with panic disorders. Scores also changed over time with the tendency to be higher during the earlier phases of the pandemic when the threat was greatest. Our data adds to a large body of studies supporting the use of the COVID Stress Scales and encourages additional research be conducted to assess treatment-related changes in COVID distress.

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