Deakin University

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Emotional response patterns, mental health, and structural vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada: a latent class analysis

journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-27, 04:38 authored by C Richardson, T Goodyear, A Slemon, A Gadermann, Kimberly Thomson, Z Daly, C McAuliffe, J Pumarino, EK Jenkins
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increases in negative emotions such as fear, worry, and loneliness, as well as changes in positive emotions, including calmness and hopefulness. Alongside these complex emotional changes has been an inequitable worsening of population mental health, with many people experiencing suicidal ideation and using substances to cope. This study examines how patterns of co-occurring positive and negative emotions relate to structural vulnerability and mental health amid the pandemic. Methods: Data are drawn from a cross-sectional monitoring survey (January 22–28, 2021) on the mental health of adults in Canada during the pandemic. Latent class analysis was used to group participants (N = 3009) by emotional response pattern types. Descriptive statistics, bivariate cross-tabulations, and multivariable logistic regression were used to characterize each class while quantifying associations with suicidal ideation and increased use of substances to cope. Results: A four-class model was identified as the best fit in this latent class analysis. This included the most at-risk Class 1 (15.6%; high negative emotions, low positive emotions), the mixed-risk Class 2 (7.1%; high negative emotions, high positive emotions), the norm/reference Class 3 (50.5%; moderate negative emotions, low positive emotions), and the most protected Class 4 (26.8% low negative emotions, high positive emotions). The most at-risk class disproportionately included people who were younger, with lower incomes, and with pre-existing mental health conditions. They were most likely to report not coping well (48.5%), deteriorated mental health (84.2%), suicidal ideation (21.5%), and increased use of substances to cope (27.2%). Compared to the norm/reference class, being in the most at-risk class was associated with suicidal ideation (OR = 2.84; 95% CI = 2.12, 3.80) and increased use of substances to cope (OR = 4.64; 95% CI = 3.19, 6.75). Conclusions: This study identified that adults experiencing structural vulnerabilities were disproportionately represented in a latent class characterized by high negative emotions and low positive emotions amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Membership in this class was associated with higher risk for adverse mental health outcomes, including suicidal ideation and increased use of substances to cope. Tailored population-level responses are needed to promote positive coping and redress mental health inequities throughout the pandemic and beyond.



BMC Public Health



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