Coronophobia Study Details

Principal Investigators: Gordon J. G. Asmundson (University of Regina) and Steven Taylor (University of British Columbia)

COVID-19 arose in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and has rapidly spread throughout China and other parts of the world. For pandemics, such as COVID-19, psychological factors play a major role in the spreading and containment of infection. These individual factors help determine whether people will be willing to comply with hygiene guidelines and social distancing. Additionally, they can help us determine who might enagage in societally disruptive behavior, such as xenophobia (discrimination towards people outside of your community), excessive fear and worry, and overuse of health-care services.

As such, psychological factors have important public health significance. We are conducting a series of studies with the end goal of developing a rapid assessment system (self-assessment and online delivery platform) that can be used to assess, for any pandemic or major epidemic, infection-related excessive anxiety and xenophobia, and risk factors for these problems. To achieve this end goal, we are conducting a web-based survey with a specific focus on COVID-19 using samples from Canada and the United States. Our first wave of data collection occurred between March 21 and April 1 and included 6868 participants. We have developed and validated measures of COVID-19-related anxiety and xenophobia and we are using these scales to identify what predicts excessive anxiety and xenophobia, which can then be used to identify their impacts. Data for Wave 2 was collected one month following the completion of Wave 1 and Wave 3 will be collected three months following Wave 1. Once the risk factors are identified, we plan to test interventions to reduce the risk factors, such as online treatments and online public health educational materials. The resulting assessment system will then be used to (a) monitor the psychological impact (as a public health problem) of the pandemic or epidemic, (b) identify people in need of psychological services, and (c) implement interventions for reducing infection-related xenophobia and excessive anxiety.