Investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adolescents' psychological wellbeing and self-identified cognitive difficulties

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Abstract Background. The COVID‐19 pandemic coincides with growing concern regarding the mental health of young people. Older adolescents have faced a particular set of pandemic‐related challenges and demonstrate heightened vulnerability to affective disorders (particularly anxiety). Anxiety symptoms are associated with a range of cognitive difficulties. Older adolescents may therefore be susceptible to pandemic‐related declines in wellbeing and associated cognitive difficulties. Methods. At three timepoints, independent samples of young people aged 16–18 years (N = 607, 242, 618 respectively) completed an online survey. Data collection coincided with periods of lockdown (timepoints 1 and 3) and young people returning to school (timepoint 2). The survey assessed subjective impacts of the pandemic on overall wellbeing, anxiety and cognitive function. Results. Findings demonstrated the detrimental impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on older adolescents' psychological wellbeing—a finding that was consistent across samples. The majority of young people at each timepoint experienced heightened anxiety. Crucially, pandemic‐related anxiety was associated with self‐identified cognitive difficulties, a pattern of association that was evident at all three timepoints. The nature and extent of these difficulties were predictive of specific pandemic‐related concerns in this age group. Conclusions. Older adolescents' experiences of the pandemic are characterised by subjective declines in wellbeing and stable patterns of association between anxiety and self‐identified cognitive difficulties. Implications are discussed with reference to future research and intervention.

Creator(s) Meg Attwood, Christopher Jarrold
Publication date 23 May 2023
Language eng
Publisher University of Bristol
Licence Non-Commercial Government Licence for public sector information
DOI 10.5523/bris.2nit8ium1cuwy2merjyyoe2r47
Citation Meg Attwood, Christopher Jarrold (2023): Investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adolescents' psychological wellbeing and self-identified cognitive difficulties.
Total size 1.9 MiB