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The influence of sex, gender, age, and ethnicity on psychosocial factors and substance use throughout phases of the COVID-19 pandemic

University of British Columbia and Women's Health Research Institute

Lori A. Brotto, Kyle Chankasingh, Alexandra Baaske, Arianne Albert, Amy Booth, Angela Kaida, Laurie W. Smith, Sarai Racey, Anna Gottschlich, Melanie C.M. Murray, Manish Sadarangani, Gina S. Ogilvie, Liisa Galea

In Progress

Topic areas

COVID-19People of colour2S/LGBTQ+

Study Design:

This paper is a quantitative longitudinal analysis of a cross-sectional survey of residents of BC ages 25-69. Collection of survey results took place between August 2020 and March 2021.

Study Sample:

"Participants in the study were recruited from previously established cohorts as a part of the COVID-19 Rapid Evidence Study of a Provincial Population-Based Cohort for Gender and Sex (RESPPONSE) study... After two months of data collection from existing research cohorts, recruitment was expanded to include participants who were not from previous cohorts, as well as public recruitment through the REACH BC platform, social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and engagement of community groups and other stakeholders." A total of 6076 individuals participated in the survey.

Research Questions:

The study aimed to explore the sex and gendered effects associated with the unintended consequences of the different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preliminary Findings:

"For all psychosocial outcomes, there was a significant effect of time with all five phases of the pandemic being associated with more psychosocial symptoms relative to pre-COVID levels (p < .0001). Gender was significantly associated with all outcomes (p< .0001) with men exhibiting lower scores (i.e., less symptoms) than women and gender diverse participants, and women exhibiting lower scores than the gender diverse group. Other significant predictors were age (younger populations experiencing more symptoms, p < .0001), ethnicity (Chinese/Taiwanese individuals experiencing less symptoms, p = .005), and Indigenous status (Indigenous individuals experiencing more symptoms, p < .0001). Alcohol use and cannabis use increased relative to pre-pandemic levels, and women reported a greater increase in cannabis use than men (p < .0001). Our findings highlight the need for policy makers and leaders to proactively consider gender when tailoring public health measures for future pandemics."

Contact Information for Updates:

Lori A. Brotto (Corresponding Author):

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  • Brotto, L.A., Chankasingh, K., Baaske, A., Albert, A., Booth, A., Kaida, A., Smith, L.W., Racey, S., Gottschlich, A., Murray, M.C.M., Sadarangani, M., Ogilvie, G.S., & Galea, L. (2021). The influence of sex, gender, age, and ethnicity on psychosocial factors and substance use throughout phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. medRxiv Preprint.

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