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Publication Detail
Did social factors buffer against the effect of adversities on self-harm during the COVID-19 pandemic? A longitudinal analysis of 49,227 UK adults
Abstract

Background

Little is known about which factors exacerbate and buffer the impact of COVID-19 -related adversities on changes in thinking about and engaging in self-harm over time.

Aims

To examine how changes in four social factors contribute to changes in self-harm thoughts and behaviours over time and how these factors in turn interact with adversities and worries about adversities to increase risk for these outcomes.

Method

Data from 49,227 UK adults in the UCL COVID-19 Social Study were analysed across the first 59 weeks of the pandemic. Fixed effects logistic regressions examined time-varying associations between social support quality, loneliness, number of days of face-to-face contact for ≥15 minutes, and number of days phoning/video calling for ≥15 minutes with self-harm thoughts and behaviours. We then examined how these four factors in turn interacted with the total number of adversities and worries about adversity on outcomes.

Results

Increases in the quality of social support decreased the likelihood of both outcomes, whilst greater loneliness increased their likelihood. Associations were inconsistent for telephone/video contact and face-to-face contact with outcomes. Social support buffered and loneliness exacerbated the impact of adversity experiences with self-harm behaviours. Other interactions were inconsistent, and some were in the unexpected direction.

Conclusions

These findings suggest the importance of the quality of one’s social support network, rather than the mere presence of contact, is important for reducing the likelihood of self-harm behaviours in the context of COVID-19 pandemic-related adversity and worry.
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Behavioural Science and Health
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Behavioural Science and Health
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