StFX professor examines how public deals with pandemic

ANTIGONISH: During unprecedented times for humankind, where many might find each day to be a challenge, a StFX psychology professor wants to know how people are doing in the face of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Dr. Karen Blair, in partnership with Dr. Debby Herbenick from Indiana University, has launched the COVID-19 Interpersonal Coping Daily Diary Study – an on-line study exploring experiences during the pandemic.

“We are interested in learning more about how people are coping, mentally, physically, and relationally, during this unique time period as we collectively face the COVID-19 pandemic,” Blair said.

The study consists of two elements, and individuals may participate in one or both.

The first part is a 20-30 minute on-line survey about experiences, social connections, views of COVID-19 and how people are coping. When this survey is done, participants will have the option to sign up for the second part, which consists of a daily diary study.

A daily diary study asks participants to complete a shorter survey every day for a period of days. In their study, there will be a link to a survey each night through e-mail, or text message, that should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. The public can participate in the diary study for two or four weeks. At the two week point, they’ll be asked if they wish to continue for another two weeks.

“We are hoping participants will continue answering for at least two weeks, but they can participate for up to four weeks,” Blair said. “At the end of the study, participants will get to keep a copy of their diary, as a record of their thoughts, experiences, and feelings during this time.”

The study is open to anyone over the age of 18 who can access an on-line survey. The surveys are mobile-friendly and will work on a phone, tablet or computer.

“We’d like to capture as many diverse experiences as possible,” Blair said. “Even though we are all facing the same pandemic, we will each have our own unique challenges to face.”

She said the study is particularly interested in hearing from students so that they can understand more about how this upheaval in their lives has impacted them; whether they’ve had to remain in town alone or travel home unexpectedly.

“For fourth year students, in particular, this abrupt end to their time at university may be very challenging and come with a wide array of emotions,” Blair said. “And we’d like to know more about how this event has impacted their well-being.”

Through word of mouth, Blair suggests the response to the study has been very strong.

“I think people are looking for things to do and also outlets where they can record their thoughts,” she said. “We’re trying to give people a bit of a way to cope.”