Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)
First Advisor/Committee Member
Second Advisor/Committee Member
Third Advisor/Committee Member
The first reported cases of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) occurred in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, with the World Health Organization officially declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant public health challenge, an important part of which is the effects of the outbreak and related efforts to contain the outbreak (e.g., social distancing) on mental health. As such, the current study sought to better understand the psychological impact of the outbreak on the United States population. Participants were 2,284 individuals (78.7% female, 78.7% Caucasian) 18 years of age and older. Four models assessed the relationships between loneliness, social support seeking, substance use, depression, nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and suicidal ideation (SI). Results were partially supportive of the proposed hypotheses. Increased alcohol use mediated the relation between loneliness and depression (β = 0.004 [0.002], 95% CI [0.00, 0.01]) and level of social support seeking moderated the relation between loneliness and depression (β = -0.04 [0.02], p < 0.05). However, level of social support seeking did not moderate the relation between loneliness and alcohol use (F(1,1610) = 0.03, p = 0.87) and the moderated mediation between loneliness, social support seeking, alcohol use, and depression was not significant (β = 0.001 [0.001], 95% CI [-0.001 to 0.005]). Moreover, non-alcoholic substance use did not mediate the relation between loneliness and depression (β = 0.001, 95% CI [-0.001 to 0.005]) and level of social support seeking did not moderate the relation between loneliness and non-alcoholic substance (F(1, 1613) = 0.13, p = 0.72). The moderated mediation between loneliness, social support seeking, non-alcoholic substance use, and depression was not significant (β = -0.0003 [0.001], 95% CI [-0.003 to 0.002]). Neither alcohol (β = -0.26 [0.21], Wald χ2 = 1.51, p = 0.22, OR = 0.77) or non-alcoholic substance use (β = -0.31 [0.30], Wald χ2 = 1.09, p = 0.30, OR = 0.73) mediated the relationship between loneliness and NSSI/SI. Moreover, level of social support seeking did not moderate the relation between loneliness and NSSI/SI (β = -0.11 [0.12], Wald χ2 = 0.87, p = 0.35, OR = 0.90). Finally, the moderated mediations between loneliness, social support seeking, alcoholic (β = -0.10 [0.19], Wald χ2 = 0.30, p = 0.59, OR = 0.90)/non-alcoholic substance use (β = -0.14 [0.25], Wald χ2 = 0.28, p = 0.60, OR = 0.87), and NSSI/SI were not significant. Overall, results suggest that substance use may be a maladaptive coping mechanism and social support seeking an adaptive coping mechanism when experiencing loneliness. However, methodological concerns about measure construction as well as a highly biased sample may have limited the current study.
Hammond, Lauren, "The Costs of COVID-19: Loneliness, Coping, and Psychological Distress in the United States Population" (2020). Clinical Psychology Dissertations. 61.