Abstract: A Health and Retirement Study on the Effects of Leisure Activity on Pandemic Stress in African American Females (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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235P A Health and Retirement Study on the Effects of Leisure Activity on Pandemic Stress in African American Females

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
LaTisha Thomas, MSW, LCSW-S, Doctoral Student, The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
The unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has sent waves of anxiety and panic throughout the world. Research has shown that leisure activity has the potential to facilitate personal growth and to serve as a vehicle for personal transformation under stressful circumstances. However, it has been noted that the participation in leisure activities has decreased secondary to the stay-at-home orders and an overall sense of concern of being in large groups. Elderly African Americans are at a greater risk of having a fatal outcome should they contract the virus. A combined dataset from the 2020 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) Core file and the Psychosocial and Lifestyle Questionnaire from 2006-2016 was used to examine the association of leisure activity participation and pandemic stress by gender and race. It is hypothesized that there will be significant relationship between one’s leisure activity participation and pandemic stress. Also, there will be statistically significant differences amongst races and by gender.

A sample size of 3,809 (50 years or older) answered the pandemic series of questions. The dependent variable, pandemic stress was measured by a sum score of two self-rated questions rating their emotional stress This is a continuous variable with a range score of two to six. The independent variable is leisure activity which was measured by a sum score of 17 leisure engagement activities that are categorized in seven broad subgroups which include outdoor, physical, hobbies/indoor, cultural activities/entertainment, social activities volunteer activities, and religious activities. It is a continuous variable with a range of scores between 17 and 68. The controls were race and gender and each were dummy coded. Race is a nominal variable measured by asking, “What is your race?” and was dummy coded (1 = “African American”, 0= “White”, “not obtained”, “other” = 0) with 28.5% African American. Gender was measured by asking, “What was your assigned gender at birth?” It was answered as a nominal, dichotomous variable with 55.8% female and was dummy coded (1= female, 0=male). First, correlation and linear regression were between each of the variables to test for multicollinearity. Next, a hierarchical regression was run amongst variables; model 1 was with the control variables and Model 2 added in leisure activity.

The assumption of multicollinearity was met as the VIF was 1.032 and the tolerance was .969. Model 1 showed an adjusted R2 of .54 with a p-value of <.001 and Model 2 adjusted R2 was .103 with a p-value of .103. The result of the model is considered fit as examined by the ANOVA table, F (2, 3,428) = 132.25, p< .001). Both gender and the participation in leisure activity were statistically significant.

In alignment with the stress coping theory (1984) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when most thought a decrease in leisure activity was necessary to avoid the spread of the virus, those who increased or maintained, or their leisure activity proved to be paramount in less reported pandemic stress. Implications are for clinicians, healthcare providers and the community at large.