Abstract: Understanding Well-Being in the Face of Large-Scale Crisis: Harnessing Resiliency and Policy Impact Theories (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Understanding Well-Being in the Face of Large-Scale Crisis: Harnessing Resiliency and Policy Impact Theories

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 14, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Talia Meital Schwartz Tayri, PhD, Faculty Member, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
Offer Emanuel Edelstein, Ph.D., Faculty member, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Yaniv Shlomo, Senior Research Fellow, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Michal Grinstein-Weiss, PhD, Shanti K Khinduka Distinguished Professor, Social Policy Institute, Washington University in St Louis, Saint Louis, MO
Background: Although recent resiliency research was groundbreaking, the models have not incorporated the unique effects of public policy on resiliency. To address this gap, we examined the effects of two types of public policy—universal unemployment benefits and income support allowances—on psychological well-being during the COVID-19 crisis. The innovative aspect of this study’s model is examining policy factors with traditional risk and protective factors to predict well-being – I suggest deleting that entire sentence.] The study uses and innovative approach to understanding the effects of public policy on individuals’ well-being during crises and associated financial strain. Moreover, this study is the first to incorporate these multilevel factors within a comprehensive theoretical model to explain and to predict resiliency during large-scale crises.

Methods: Study data were obtained from Wave 3 of a survey administered in January 2021 to a nationally representative sample of 2,363 Israelis. The survey collected respondents’ sociodemographic characteristics; assessed psychological well-being; evaluated risk through measures of generalized anxiety, income loss due to COVID-19, nutrition insecurity, and lack of financial assets; and assessed protective factors, including universal unemployment benefits, income-support benefits, and emotional support. In the first step of the two-step analytic plan, we examined potential associations between the primary study variables and the sociodemographic characteristics. Second, we conducted stepwise linear regression to examine risk and protective factors and their associations with psychological well-being; we also investigated possible interactions between each risk and protective factor.

Results: The variables explained 31% of the variance in psychological well-being. The regression analysis showed the risk factors with a significant negative effect on psychological well-being included nutrition insecurity (β = -.323***), lack of financial assets (β = -.19***), loss of income due to COVID-19 (β = -.14***), and anxiety (β = -.13***). Positive effects on psychological well-being were found for protective factors of income support benefits (β = .13***) and emotional support (β = .17***); however, finding universal employment benefits did not have a significant positive effect on psychological well-being (β = .018) was unexpected. We found two significant interaction effects: (a) lack of assets had a significant negative effect on psychological well-being among respondents who reported elevated levels of anxiety (β = -.14***), and anxiety had a significant negative on psychological well-being among respondents who reported high levels of social support (β = .16***).

Conclusions and implications: This study uncovers the multidimensional nature of protective factors embedded in resiliency processes and reveals the importance of accounting for public policy and individual-level factors to increase understanding of psychological well-being, especially in times of large-scale crises. The findings suggest policy enacted to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 vary in their effect on psychological well-being. Findings revealed interactions between multilevel risk (lack of financial assets, anxiety) and protective factors (income support allowance, social support) and the vital role of these interactions in explaining psychological resiliency. By providing policy makers with a better understanding of resiliency processes during a crisis, this study advances efforts to develop more adequate, comprehensive, and customized public policies that promote well-being.