‘Covid-19 anxiety syndrome’ rears its head as office return looms – Personnel Today

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‘Covid-19 anxiety syndrome’ may cause employees to struggle with reintegrating back into daily life as workplaces and society begin to open up.

This is according to research carried out by London South Bank University and Kingston University, which found 54% of people strongly endorsed avoiding public transport because of a fear of contracting Covid-19; 49% strongly endorsed avoiding touching things in public spaces; and 38% strongly endorsed avoiding going out into public places.

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One in five of the 286 UK-based survey participants scored highly on the researchers’ “Covid-19 anxiety syndrome scale” when the research was carried out in February 2021.

They defined “Covid-19 anxiety syndrome” as consisting of coping mechanisms including constant attention to threat, worry, avoidance and excessive checking. This can keep people locked into a state of continuous anxiety and fear of contracting the virus, they said.

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The top 25% of scorers on the scale were  younger and had a higher risk status than the rest of the sample, regardless of gender or vaccination status.

Those at high clinical risk scored significantly higher on the scale than the rest of the population.

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Professor Marcantonio Spada, professor of addictive behaviours and mental health at LSBU, said: “The Covid-19 anxiety syndrome refers to how we cope with the fear of contracting the virus. Our research highlights that some forms of coping may exacerbate this fear and heighten anxiety.

“We observed that the higher the levels of Covid-19 anxiety syndrome, the more likely it is that those people will be aware of the threat of catching the virus. This group of people also find it harder to disengage from these threats, which may make return to normal daily living harder.

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“In view of our findings, we believe it will take time, for some people to return to normal daily life after the pandemic and we will need to support them. Mapping out how we will do this is a priority.”

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