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Which dysfunctional beliefs may be contributing to COVID-19 anxiety?

Faculty Advisor




COVID-19, pandemics, anxiety, dysfunctional beliefs

Abstract (summary)

Mental health issues have increased in the population since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, anxiety and fear related to COVID-19 has emerged, with limited research looking at which problematic beliefs may contribute to COVID-19 anxiety. Since specific dysfunctional beliefs have been shown to play a role in anxiety-related disorders, these same beliefs may also contribute to COVID-19 anxiety. The current study examined the link between COVID-19 anxiety and dysfunctional beliefs. A non-clinical undergraduate sample (N = 416) completed two established measures of COVID-19 anxiety: the COVID Stress Scales (CSS) and the Fear of Coronavirus Scale (FCV-19S). Additionally, participants completed measures of anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty, metacognitions, disgust propensity and sensitivity, somatosensory amplification, and body vigilance. All the dysfunctional beliefs had low to moderate correlations with the CSS, rs = .24 - .55, and the FCV-19S, rs = .12 - .51. Multiple regression analyses were conducted on the CSS and FCV-19S. The belief that anxiety may damage one’s mind was a unique predictor of CSS scores, p = .005, while the belief that anxiety may lead to heart failure was found to be a unique predictor of FCV-19S scores, p < .001. The metacognitive belief that illness can be prevented or caused by the way an individual thinks was a unique predictor of COVID-19 anxiety on both the CSS, p < .001, and the FCV-19S, p = .032. Additionally, disgust sensitivity was associated with COVID-19 anxiety on both the CSS, p < .001, and the FCV-19S, p = .004. These findings establish that COVID-19 anxiety is related to anxiety sensitivity, metacognitions, and disgust sensitivity. Therapists who work with clients with COVID-19 anxiety may find that these specific dysfunctional beliefs increase the anxiety. Therefore, therapists may wish to target these beliefs in their treatment plan.

Publication Information



Presented on May 8, 2021 at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies Annual Conference held virtually.

Item Type

Student Presentation




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