Finding the Silver Lining in the Midst of the COVID-19 Crisis

Hailey Carroll, Jordan Britt, and Robin Kowalski

Abstract

To investigate benefit finding in COVID-19, 179 workers on MTurk were surveyed. Participants reported dips in satisfaction with work, leisure, fitness, mental health, and finances currently relative to 6 months ago and 6 months in the future. Benefit finding in COVID-19 was related to PTG (r = .80), coping (r = .60), gratitude (r = .40), health (r = .44), and self-compassion (r = .46), ps < .001. [/av_textblock] [av_image src='http://ci.clemson.edu/blogs/summershowcase/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/07/thoughtbubble1-300x225.jpeg' attachment='1490' attachment_size='medium' align='center' styling='' hover='' link='' target='' caption='' font_size='' appearance='' overlay_opacity='0.4' overlay_color='#000000' overlay_text_color='#ffffff' animation='no-animation' av_uid='av-1017hqf'][/av_image] [av_textblock size='' font_color='' color='' av_uid='av-y0lw87'] When confronted with trauma or significant health threats, people, including physicians and mental health professionals, are often quick to focus on the negative sequelae of the trauma. However, research across a number of conditions has confirmed that, in most cases, there is a silver lining to aversive experiences and that, for many, negative occurrences can be an opportunity for post-traumatic growth. Across studies, the frequency of benefit-finding, or appraising negative situations in a positive light, ranges between 50% and 90% (Cheng et al., 2006). For example, SARS patients reported personal growth, interpersonal appreciation, healthier lifestyles, and greater social connectedness as a result of their illness (Cheng et al., 2006). Benefit finding among breast cancer patients (Mols et al., 2006; Wen et al., 2017), as well as among individuals with colorectal cancer (Jansen et al., 2011), is related to adaptive coping, lower levels of depression, and post-traumatic growth. Children caring for an ill parent who engage in benefit-finding report more positive outcomes than those who do not (Pakenham & Cox, 2018). The purpose of the current study was to investigate benefit-finding in the COVID-19 crisis. [/av_textblock] [av_heading tag='h3' padding='10' heading='Materials and Methods' color='' style='' custom_font='' size='' subheading_active='' subheading_size='15' custom_class='' av_uid='av-wuu4fb'][/av_heading] [av_textblock size='' font_color='' color='' av_uid='av-va5nmv'] One hundred seventy nine workers on Amazon Mechanical Turk completed an online survey. The participants completed a number of individual difference measures including resilience, gratitude, post-traumatic growth, benefit-finding related to the COVID-19 crisis, ways of coping, and optimism/pessimism. The participants then rated their personal satisfaction 6 months ago, currently, and projected 6 months in the future with their work, family, work/life family balance, finances, leisure, physical fitness, spirituality, mental health, close relationships, and the environment. Finally, they completed open-ended questions inquiring about the advice they would offer their pre-COVID self, the three most difficult things they had encountered as a result of the COVID crisis, and the three most beneficial outcomes of the COVID situation. [/av_textblock] [/av_one_third][av_one_third min_height='' vertical_alignment='' space='' custom_margin='' margin='0px' padding='0px' border='' border_color='' radius='0px' background_color='' src='' background_position='top left' background_repeat='no-repeat' animation='' av_uid='av-t18mt3'] [av_video src='https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOJGjyrbnaM&feature=youtu.be' format='16-9' width='16' height='9' av_uid='av-ruka5z'] [av_heading tag='h3' padding='10' heading='Results' color='' style='' custom_font='' size='' subheading_active='' subheading_size='15' custom_class='' av_uid='av-q8jszb'][/av_heading] [av_textblock size='' font_color='' color='' av_uid='av-ngn1yf'] As shown in Table 1, participants reported dips in satisfaction with work, leisure, fitness, mental health, finances, and academic success currently relative to 6 months prior and in the future. Benefit finding specific to the COVID-19 crisis was related to PTG (r = .80), coping (r = .60), gratitude (r = .40), health (r = .44), and self-compassion (r = .46), ps < .001 (see Table 2). The thought bubbles throughout the poster represent participant's responses to the prompt, "If you could go back in time before COVID-19, what advice would you offer your pre-COVID-19 self to help better prepare you to cope with the COVID-19 situation?" [/av_textblock] [av_image src='http://ci.clemson.edu/blogs/summershowcase/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/07/thoughtbubble3-300x225.jpeg' attachment='1489' attachment_size='medium' align='center' styling='' hover='' link='' target='' caption='' font_size='' appearance='' overlay_opacity='0.4' overlay_color='#000000' overlay_text_color='#ffffff' animation='no-animation' av_uid='av-mz54hj'][/av_image] [av_image src='http://ci.clemson.edu/blogs/summershowcase/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/07/coronavirushomie-300x169.jpg' attachment='1247' attachment_size='medium' align='center' styling='' hover='' link='' target='' caption='' font_size='' appearance='' overlay_opacity='0.4' overlay_color='#000000' overlay_text_color='#ffffff' animation='no-animation' av_uid='av-ksqz9j'][/av_image] [/av_one_third][av_one_third min_height='' vertical_alignment='' space='' custom_margin='' margin='0px' padding='0px' border='' border_color='' radius='0px' background_color='' src='' background_position='top left' background_repeat='no-repeat' animation='' av_uid='av-jntn53'] [av_heading tag='h3' padding='10' heading='Conclusions' color='' style='' custom_font='' size='' subheading_active='' subheading_size='15' custom_class='' av_uid='av-hr52sn'][/av_heading] [av_textblock size='' font_color='' color='' av_uid='av-frsx3b'] Consistent with previous research, finding the silver lining in the COVID-19 crisis is associated with positive physical and psychological health benefits. Most notably, participants who reported benefit-finding in COVID-19 indicated higher levels of post-traumatic growth. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 affected satisfaction levels across several domains for all participants. However, importantly, participants also expected a rebound effect six months in the future when, hopefully, the negative effects of COVID-19 will have diminished. [/av_textblock] [av_image src='http://ci.clemson.edu/blogs/summershowcase/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/07/thoughtbubble2-300x225.jpeg' attachment='1491' attachment_size='medium' align='center' styling='' hover='' link='' target='' caption='' font_size='' appearance='' overlay_opacity='0.4' overlay_color='#000000' overlay_text_color='#ffffff' animation='no-animation' av_uid='av-e6189j'][/av_image] [av_heading tag='h3' padding='10' heading='References' color='' style='' custom_font='' size='' subheading_active='' subheading_size='15' custom_class='' av_uid='av-cgpso7'][/av_heading] [av_textblock size='' font_color='' color='' av_uid='av-afdmdj'] Cheng, C., Wong, W., & Tsang, K. W. (2006). Perception of benefits and costs during SARS outbreak: An 18-month prospective study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(5), 870-879. https://doi.org/ 10.1037/0022-006X.74.5.870

Floortje Mols, A. Vingerhoets, J. J. M., Coebergh, J. W. W., & Lonneke V.  (2009) Well-being, posttraumatic growth and benefit finding in long-term breast cancer survivors. Psychology & Health, 24(5), 583-595. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870440701671362

Jansen, L., Hoffmeister, M., Chang-Claude, J., Brenner, H., & Arndt, V. (2011). Benefit finding and post-traumatic growth in long-term colorectal cancer survivors: Prevalence, determinants, and associations with quality of life. British Journal of Cancer105(8), 1158–1165. https://doi.org/10.1038/bjc.2011.335

Pakenham, K. I., & Cox, S. (2018). Effects of benefit finding, social support and caregiving on youth adjustment in a parental illness context. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27(8), 2491–2506. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1088-2

Wen, K. Y., Ma, X. S., Fang, C., Song, Y., Tan, Y., Seals, B., & Ma, G. X. (2017). Psychosocial correlates of benefit finding in breast cancer survivors in China. Journal of Health Psychology22(13), 1731–1742. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105316637839