Gender differences in the reaction to COVID-19

Avital Laufer, Mally Shechory Bitton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Since December 2019, COVID-19, has affected many aspects of people’s lives–women and men alike. The current study examined gender differences due to the pandemic-resultant-lockdown in psychiatric symptomatology (depression, anxiety, and somatization), coping strategies, levels of resilience, and belief in a just world (BJW). One-thousand-and-sixty-five Israeli adults (309 men and 756 women) were interviewed online during the time Israel was under its first mandatory lockdown (March 2020). Results indicated higher levels of anxiety, depression, and somatization among women (t (635.238) = -8.86, p <.001; t (606.414) = -5.31, p <.001; t (743.856) = -6.80; p <.001; respectively). More women stopped working due to the lockdown (Z = 2.08, p =.037), and fewer women reported their jobs being considered „essential„ (Z = 2.76, p =.006).  Women were more concerned than men regarding the health of others (t (1063) = -2.71, p =.007) and regarding finances (t (1062) = -2.99, p =.003), but no gender differences were found regarding concerns for one’s own health.  Women used more coping tactics, both emotion-focused (t (1062) = -8.20, p <.001) and problem-focused (t (1062) = -5.21, p <.001), than did men. Higher levels of resilience (t (1057) = 3.11, p =.002) and BJW (t (1047) = 5.19, p <.001) were found among men than among women. Being a woman, younger age, use of emotion-focused coping, lower levels of resilience, worries about the economic situation, and worries about family members’ health explained 43% of the variance in psychological distress. No significant interactions between gender, study variables, and psychological distress were found. These findings indicate that gender differences in psychological reactions may be due to the heavier toll taken by the pandemic and lockdown on the lives of women rather than to gender differences in coping tactics or resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)800-810
Number of pages11
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • COVID-19
  • Coping
  • gender
  • resiliency
  • symptoms


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