Abstract: Predicting Pandemic Impact: Results Form the Center for Healthy Communities COVID-19 Tri-County Survey Project (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

602P Predicting Pandemic Impact: Results Form the Center for Healthy Communities COVID-19 Tri-County Survey Project

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Helen Taylor Yates, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, NC
Megan Toothman, Project Coordinator Center for Healthy Communities, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

Rural communities have struggled to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and social work researchers are in a position to support these vulnerable communities. Previous studies indicated that young adults are significantly impacted by COVID-19, and that mental health issues were experienced by this group (Syed, et al., 2021). At the request of our community partners, we conducted a survey to help tailor health promotion information to minimize COVID-19 effects in the community. Our research question was “What factors contribute to the level of impact of COVID-19 on our sample of rural participants?” Our alternative hypothesis was that younger age and mental health issues would be significant predictors of higher COVID-19 impact scores. Our results indicated that age, depression and anxiety were predictors of higher COVID-19 impact. We used the results to inform the community about the need for increased mental health services for young adults in their communities.


We delivered a one-time survey to participants in three counties with high levels of COVID-19 rates based on population data in the fall of 2020. The respondents were recruited through community partners who reached out to the university’s Center for Healthy Communities for assistance with tailoring health promotion literature to reduce community impact of COVID-19. The survey included 69 questions from the Pandemic Stress Index and the WHO COVID-19 Rapid Quantitative Assessment Tool (Harkness, 2020; Stoddard & Kauffman, 2021; WHO, 2021). We analyzed the survey data using Logistic Regression in IBM SPSS 27 that included variables for age and endorsement of anxiety and depression as predictors of pandemic impact levels.


The survey was completed by N=119 participants across three rural counties. The mean age was 49.94, SD 13.18 with a minimum of 22 and a maximum of 80. Age was significantly negatively correlated with COVID-19 impact (r=-.24, p<.05), meaning younger people had higher COVID-19 impact scores. Logistic regression indicated that symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as being in a younger age group were significant predictors of pandemic impact on participants with the model accounting for 25% of the variance (p<.05). Specifically, younger people and those with both anxiety and depression were more likely to be in the highest pandemic impact group. These results supported rejecting the null hypothesis that age and mental health issues would not predict pandemic impact.


The implications for our community partners are related to both age and mental health. Our results indicated that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact the mental health of younger participants. We used these results to inform the community about the need for tailored mental health services for this age group. Though our sample was too small to generalize beyond the sample, our results mirrored previous research that showed young adults being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic including the experience of anxiety, stress and depression (Syed, 2021). More research is needed to determine which services will be most beneficial and how to best reach young adults in these communities.