COVID-19 anxiety symptoms associated with problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese adults
Elhai, Jon D.
Asmundson, Gordon J.G.
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Background: COVID-19 is fast-spreading and potentially fatal, introducing home quarantine, social distancing, and increased internet usage globally. We investigated COVID-19 anxiety, general anxiety and depression symptoms, and their impact on problematic smartphone use (PSU) severity Methods: Participants were 908 residents of a large Eastern Chinese city, surveyed from late-February to midMarch, 2020. We administered online measures including the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21, Smartphone Addiction Scale-Short Version, and items querying COVID-19-related news exposure and threat of death. Additionally, participants rated anxiety using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale-7 with reference to COVID19. Results: COVID-19 anxiety correlated with severity of PSU, depression and anxiety. Using established cut-off scores, 12% of participants were identified with at least moderate depression, and 24% with moderate anxiety. Using structural equation modeling, COVID-19 anxiety related to PSU severity, mediating relations between general anxiety and PSU severity. However, controlling PSU for general anxiety and depression severity, COVID19 anxiety no longer predicted PSU severity. Limitations: Limitations include the cross-sectional research design and reliance on data from only one country. Conclusions: Results are discussed in context of the I-PACE model of excessive internet use. While COVID-19 anxiety is likely a global anxiety-provoking event, other everyday worries and anxiety are additionally clinically important in driving excessive internet use.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.05.080
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