We are at risk too: The disparate impacts of the pandemic on younger generations

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry - Journal Article

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in profound global impact with high rates of morbidity and mortality. It is essential to understand the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic to identify appropriate prevention and intervention targets. Across generational groups, this study examined: (1) rates of precautions and adaptive and maladaptive health behaviours, (2) differences in levels of anxiety, and (3) rates of and changes in COVID-related concerns over time during the early outbreak of COVID-19 in Canada. Methods: We analyzed data from two Canadian population-based datasets: the Canadian Perspective Survey Series: Impact of COVID-19 survey (N=4,627; March 29-April 3, 2020), and Crowdsourcing: Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians: Your Mental Health (N=45,989; April 24-May 11, 2020). We categorized generational age group, participants self-reported changes in behaviours and COVID-related concerns, and a validated measure assessed anxiety symptoms. Results: There are age differences in behavioural responses to the pandemic; adaptive health habits (e.g., exercise) were stable across groups, while maladaptive health habits (e.g., substance use) were highest among younger groups. COVID-related precautions were also highest among the younger generations, with Generation X exhibiting the highest rate of precautionary behaviour. Results also revealed that anxiety and worry are prevalent in response to the pandemic across all generations, with the highest rate of clinically significant anxiety among Millennials (36.0%). Finally, COVID-related concerns are greatest for younger generations and appear to be decreasing with time. Conclusion: These early data are essential in understanding at-risk groups given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and its potential long-term implications.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementUniversity of Manitoba Start-Up Funding (El-Gabalawy) and Canadian Institutes for Health Research Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral Award (Sommer)Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:REB approval is not required for the use of these public data. Statistics Canada previously acquired all mandatory approvals in their initial collection of the data.All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).Yes I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesThe analysis is based on public use data that can be accessed through Statistics Canada.

Renee El-Gabalawy, Jordana Sommer
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