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Pandemic has had increased stress on women, research finds

A new study from UAMS shows that the pandemic could be having an even bigger impact on one group of people in particular.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The pandemic has continued for years and with that, comes mental hurdles for many. A new study from UAMS shows that the pandemic could be having an even bigger impact on one group in particular.

The study hones in on women in Arkansas, particularly in caregiver roles, and analyzes the impact that the pandemic has had on their well-being and the stressors that have come to the surface along the way. 

The World Health Organization says that women, particularly ones who work on the front-lines, are more likely than men to suffer from ailments such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and burnout.

According to the study, those four stressors are all intensified by the physical and emotional costs of being overworked, along with the potential exposure of COVID. 

Researchers took a deeper look at those stressors and found that Arkansas women that participated in the study reported the following as their four primary sources of stress: 

  • Employment and Expenses: "Women reported employment disruptions and loss of income as the primary source of stress. Women in essential roles or front-line workers reported that the stress of being overworked and witnessing the pandemic up close significantly impacted their emotional and physical health," the study says.
  • Social Distancing and Quarantine: "Women reported that the lack of social engagement and isolation increased their stress because they lost the outlets that they once used to relieve stress and find enjoyment," the study says.
  • Caregiving: Women in a caregiver role reported that the stress of balancing work and home life left them overwhelmed and with feelings of burnout. Women reported they were also stressed about the impact the virus had on their family members," the study says.
  • Emotional and Mental Health: "Women reported that their emotional and mental health suffered directly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They reported higher levels of anxiety and fear for their loved ones as well as depression from being isolated," the study says.

This research is something that Rachel Purvis, who serves as a lead researcher for the study, hopes will help improve the mental health for women throughout the remainder of the pandemic and in the case of future ones.

“Understanding how the pandemic impacted women’s daily stress will identify gender disparities and help reduce the impact of the pandemic and future pandemics on women’s mental health,” said Rachel Purvis, Ph.D, assistant professor in the Office of Community Health & Research. 

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