Social support, psychological flexibility and coping mediate the association between COVID-19 related stress exposure and psychological distress

Richard Tindle, Alla Hemi, Ahmed A. Moustafa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to an increase in psychological distress. However, protective factors such as social support, psychological flexibility, and coping mechanisms can help individuals cope with the effects of psychological distress. This study aimed to test a recent hypothesis suggesting that psychological flexibility is not necessarily a coping strategy but a mechanism that can influence the coping strategies an individual employs during stressful events. We tested a mediation model that COVID-19 concerns would contribute to higher levels of perceived social support, which would directly increase psychological flexibility, and finally test if the effect of psychological flexibility on distress was mediated by approach and avoidant coping strategies. The results show that social support facilitates higher levels of psychological flexibility. Further, that psychological flexibility indirectly reduces psychological distress by reducing avoidant coping and increasing approach coping strategies. Within the context of COVID-19, we have shown the importance of social support and psychological flexibility for reducing distress. We have provided further evidence that psychological flexibility might not be a coping mechanism but a strategy that leads individuals to engage in more approach coping strategies and fewer avoidant coping strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8688
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 May 2022

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© 2022, The Author(s).

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