Identity-based social support predicts mental and physical health outcomes during COVID-19

Holly Carter, Amelia Dennis, Natalie Williams, Dale Weston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Kingdom implemented physical distancing measures to minimize viral transmission, which may have adversely impacted health and wellbeing. Evidence suggests that social support may be key to mitigating against adverse health impacts of such measures, particularly when such social support is identity-based. In this longitudinal study, we examined the role of social identity and perceived social support in mental and physical health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants completed a survey at 4 time points during the first year of the pandemic: May/June 2020 (T1; N = 443); September/October 2020 (T2; N = 235); December 2020/January 2021 (T3; N = 243); and April 2021 (T4; N = 206). Results showed that at each time point, social support was predicted by identification with multiple groups before COVID-19, identity continuity, and identification with communities. Higher identity continuity and identification with communities both predicted greater mental and physical health at the same time point, mediated by perceived social support. Interestingly, higher identity continuity and identification with communities predicted higher social support at the same time point, which in turn predicted worse mental and physical health outcomes at the subsequent time point. Findings are discussed in relation to the context of the first year of the pandemic and the changing nature of societal restrictions across the four survey time points.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Early online date13 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • mental health
  • physical health
  • social identity
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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