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Adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic: associations with global and situational meaning.

Sherman AC, Williams ML, Amick BC, Hudson TJ, Messias EL, Simonton-Atchley S. Adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic: associations with global and situational meaning. Current psychology (New Brunswick, N.J.). 2022 Jul 6; 1-16.

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COVID-19 has created pervasive upheaval and uncertainty in communities around the world. This investigation evaluated associations between discrete dimensions of personal meaning and psychological adjustment to the pandemic among community residents in a southern US state. In this cross-sectional study, 544 respondents were assessed during a period of reopening but accelerating infection rates. Validated measures were used to evaluate theoretically distinct dimensions of perceived global meaning (Meaning-in-Life Questionnaire) and pandemic-specific meaning (Meaning in Illness Scale). Adjustment outcomes included perceived stress, pandemic-related helplessness, and acceptance of the pandemic. In multivariate models that controlled for demographic and pandemic-related factors, stronger attained global meaning (i.e., perceptions that life is generally meaningful) and attained situational meaning (i.e., perceptions that the pandemic experience was comprehensible) were related to better adjustment on all three outcomes (all 's < .001). In contrast, seeking situational meaning (i.e., ongoing efforts to find coherence in the situation) was associated with poorer adjustment on all indices (all 's < .001). Results offer novel information regarding theoretically salient dimensions of meaning, which may have direct relevance for understanding how community residents adapt to the challenges of a major public health crisis.

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