Health psychology in the time of COVID-19

Kenneth E. Freedland, Mary Amanda Dew, David B. Sarwer, Matthew M. Burg, Trevor A. Hart, Sarah W.Feldstein Ewing, Carolyn Y. Fang, Shelley A. Blozis, Eli Puterman, Becky Marquez, Peter G. Kaufmann

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


Health Psychology has received numerous papers over the past several months on topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them concern depression, anxiety, stress, or other forms of distress in the general population or in health care workers. We have received far fewer papers on COVID-related health behaviors and health communications-factors that have played central roles in the spread of the pandemic and that are major topics in health psychology. Our experience is consistent with the published scientific literature on the pandemic. A Medline search that we conducted in late September yielded over 23,000 English-language articles pertaining to COVID-19. Over 1,400 of them concerned topics that are within the scope of Health Psychology. As shown in Table 1, COVID-related mental disorders comprised the largest category. Many other studies concerned other forms of stress or emotional distress. At least 248 articles addressed the profound ethnic and racial disparities in COVID-19 infection and death rates and in access to health care that are accentuating longstanding health inequities; 22 (9%) of these articles addressed behavioral or psychosocial aspects of COVID-19 health disparities. Thus, the literature on the behavioral and psychosocial aspects of the pandemic has been dominated, so far at least, by research on stress or distress. Fewer reports have been published so far on critical COVID-related health behaviors, health communication, or health disparities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1025
Number of pages5
JournalHealth psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

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