Title of studyAuthorsStatus of studyIf present: link to paper or reportShort summaryTake home messagesPolicy implicationskey words
Couple Satisfaction during the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown : Longitudinal Individual and Dyadic PerspectivesGaldiolo, S., Geonet, M., & Gaugue, J. Submitted
The current study was a 4-waves longitudinal study with the objective to examine the developmental trajectory of couple satisfaction during the lockdown with individual (N = 371 individuals) and dyadic (N = 108 couples) perspectives, including gender, the number (or absence) of children, the number of hours spent together, and the duration of the relationship as time-invariant predictors and the partner’s couple satisfaction development as a time-varying covariate. First, results showed positive intraindividual changes of couple satisfaction during the lockdown: Experiencing the lockdown would increase the partners’ effectiveness for resolving couple conflicts and decrease partners’ aggressiveness. Second, participants had also perceived the influence of the lockdown as more and more positive over time on couple and family functioning. Third, there were no difference in terms of developmental trajectory between men vs. women and parents vs. nonparents. Finally, the couple satisfaction of both partners changed in tandem during the lockdown: The perception of the couple relationship seems to similarly evolve between partners. Consequently, the lockdown would be a dyadic phenomenon more than a phenomenon that exacerbate the partners’ differences and perceptions.
Although the lockdown had a negative influence on individual mental health, it also had positive impact for couples, especially in terms of better resolution of conflicts and less use of aggression within the couple, thanks to the increase in time spent in couples. Some lessons could be learned from this lockdown experience. The first one concerned the notion of time spent in couple and family. The lockdown was a temporary intensive experience during which all members of a family or couple continuously live together in their house, by maintaining their usual activities (e.g., working, household tasks) without being on holidays. Our results showed that it has been relatively positive for the couple relationship. Thus, the couple needs time to cope with daily couple problems. It allows skipping the social, relational, and family obligations that could sometimes be a stressor for couple. More family and couple time would be a protective factor against aggression and problems-solving resolution within the couple. The second lesson refers to the dyadic trajectory of couple satisfaction. The lockdown allows to intensively share one’s partner’s daily life and to experience the same perception of the couple satisfaction. Hence, sharing the same perception of the couple relationship is also a protective factor for couples to facilitate coordination and provide confidence about the predictability of partners’ attitudes and behaviors
Because the lockdown influences both partners in the same way, there is only a risk of emotional contagion. It would be important to establish specific support for couples with a weak initial level of satisfaction and a high initial level of violence, e.g. a list of therapists of couple, specific applications for couple difficulties, websites... Moreover, it seems that the lockdown is more difficult for parental couples. So, it is needed to establish specific online support for parental couples.
Couple satisfaction, parental satisfaction
Le bien-être et la motivation des élèves durant la crise sanitaire liée au Covid-19 [Student well-being and motivation during Covid-19 crisis]
Baudouin, N., Dellisse, S., Coertjens, L., Galand, B., Crépin, F., Baye, A., & Lafontaine, D.
In Belgium, the covid-19 crisis led to the closure of schools from 16th March 2020. In secondary education, from 18thMay 2020, some grades (mainly grades 8 and 12) were allowed to return to school twice a week. On September 1st 2020, all secondary education students went back to school on a full-time basis, but have to wear facial masks. The aims of this study are twofold. First, shedding light on secondary students’ well-being during the covid-19 crisis. Second, detailing how the educational system responded to the crisis and the impact on learners’ motivation. Secondary education students were invited to fill out a short online questionnaire at two moments: in June 2020 (N = 6.015) and at the end of September (N = 2423). Both questionnaires were very similar and focused on students’ motivation and well-being, relying on previously validated scales (Galand & Philippot, 2002; Hospel et al., 2016; Olivier et al., 2020; Holmberg, 2020). Regarding students’ well-being during the covid-19 crisis, we remark that overall students reported to be less happy compared to the HBSC 2018 results as well in June and at the end of September. Although students from the 2nd and 3rddegree appear to be more strongly impacted than students from the first degree in September. Regarding the way the educational system responded to the crises, it is important to know that in the Spring of 2020, Ministry decided that summative assessments (planned in June) were cancelled. Homework – focused on content already taught – was provided for students. Teachers were also expected to keep in touch with their students. The data indicate that a majority of students received homework (70.9 %). About half of students indicate a regular contact with their teachers (54.5 %), although only 27.5% indicated to speak to a teacher at least once a week. Results from regression analysis indicate an interaction effect (B = 0.057, p = .005): the negative effect of the frequency of homework on pupils' sense of self-efficacy would mainly be present among pupils who report low frequency of contact with teachers and would not concern pupils who report having a lot of contact with teachers. Pupils who receive a lot of work to do but have little contact with teachers would therefore feel less able to do the work expected of them.
(1) The temporary interruption of school is not necessarily linked to a decline in well-being. Returning to school is not necessarily linked to an increase in well-being. (2)To support student motivation, teachers support (both learning and emotional support) are important. (3) Experiences are very different from one student to another (both for well-being and motivation during « lockdown » and for the beginning of the school year)
Recommendations for teachers: (1) Provide emotional support in addition to academic support. Your students are likely to be behind in their learning. Instructional support to catch up is important. However, a trap would be to focus only on pedagogical support. Emotional support is essential for students' academic motivation (which will later affect learning). A dedicated space for students to talk seems like a good idea to get feedback on their experiences in real time as well as to make them feel that the school is not forgetting them. Try to care about their experiences, not just once, but repeatedly. If you are having trouble figuring out how to do this, taking into account the characteristics of your classrooms, don't hesitate to ask trusted colleagues or a CPMS worker for advice. (2) Maintain contact between students. Again, social contact between students proves important to maintain in these particular situations. In lockdown, the use of computer platforms can serve this connection. In the classroom, students complain that the sanitary rules put in place in schools slow down the connection between students and teachers. Keep in mind that while measures are important to adhere to, it is important to maintain supportive contact (emotional and educational). A good perception of social support from peers improves well-being. Maintaining contact between students, even at a distance, is also a point of attention. (3) Ask for regular feedback to identify students who are struggling. Students report wide disparities in their experiences of lockdown. It is important to keep in mind that while some students experience being able to manage their work schedule on their own well, others may have great difficulty getting organized. This is a skill that can be learned. Asking for regular feedback on work management can help identify students who are struggling. Organizing exchanges of work management practices among students can also be beneficial. If advice comes from peers, students may be more attentive to it and implement it more easily.
Well-Being; Motivation; Teachers support
Meaningful activities during COVID-19 lockdown and association with mental health in Belgian adults
Cruyt, E., De Vriendt, P., De Letter, M., Vlerick, P., Calders, P., De Pauw, R., Oostra, K., Rodriguez-Bailón, M., Szmalec, A., Merchán-Baeza, J-A., Fernández-Solano, J., Vidaña, M., & Van de Velde, D.
Background: The spread of COVID-19 has affected people’s daily lives, and the lockdown may have led to a disruption of daily activities and a decrease of people’s mental health.
Aim: To identify correlates of adults’ mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown in Belgium and to assess the role of meaningful activities in particular.
Methods: A cross-sectional web survey for assessing mental health (General Health Questionnaire), resilience (Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale), meaning in activities (Engagement in Meaningful Activities Survey), and demographics was conducted during the first Belgian lockdown between April 24 and May 4, 2020. The lockdown consisted of closing schools, non-essential shops, and recreational settings, employees worked from home or were technically unemployed, and it was forbidden to undertake social activities. Every adult who had access to the internet and lived in Belgium could participate in the survey; respondents were recruited online through social media and e-mails. Hierarchical linear regression was used to identify key correlates.
Results: Participants (N = 1781) reported low mental health (M = 14.85/36). In total, 42.4% of the variance in mental health could be explained by variables such as gender, having children, living space, marital status, health condition, and resilience (β = −.33). Loss of meaningful activities was strongly related to mental health (β = −.36) and explained 9% incremental variance (R2 change = .092, p < .001) above control variables.
Conclusions: The extent of performing meaningful activities during the COVID-19 lockdown in Belgium was positively related to adults’ mental health. Insights from this study can be taken into account during future lockdown measures in case of pandemics.
*The extent of performing meaningful activities during the COVID-19 lockdown in Belgium was positively related to adults’ mental health.
*Maintaining or reconstructing meaningful activities during the
COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be an important pathway to build a meaningful life in the context of profound disruption.
*Increasing awareness of the importance of meaningful activities in daily life might lead to more widespread recognition of the potentially detrimental effects
of disruption and deprivation of such activities when these occur
*Besides economical and
health aspects, meaning in activities must also be taken into account throughout lockdown decision-making processes and measures.
Corona, General health, Meaningful activities, Occupations, Resilience, Well-being
Home confinement during the COVID-19: day-to-day associations of sleep quality with rumination, psychotic-like experiences, and somatic symptoms
Simor, P., Polner, B., Báthori, N., Sifuentes-Ortega, R., Van Roy, A., Albajara Sáenz, A., Luque González, A., Benkirane, O., Nagy, T., & Peigneux, P.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, populations from many countries have been confined at home for extended periods of time in stressful environmental and media conditions. Cross-sectional studies already evidence deleterious psychological consequences, with poor sleep as a risk factor for impaired mental health. However, limitations of cross-sectional assessments are response bias tendencies, and the inability to track daily fluctuations in specific subjective experiences in extended confinement conditions. In a prospective study conducted across three European countries, we queried participants (N = 166) twice a day through an online interface about their sleep quality and their negative psychological experiences for two consecutive weeks. Focus was set on between-and within-person associations of subjective sleep quality with daytime experiences such as rumination, psychotic-like experiences, and somatic complaints about the typical symptoms of the coronavirus. Results show that daily reports of country-specific COVID-19 deaths predicted increased negative mood, psychotic-like experiences and somatic complaints during the same day, and decreased subjective sleep quality the following night. Disrupted sleep was globally associated with negative psychological outcomes during the study period, and a relatively poorer night of sleep predicted increased rumination, psychotic-like experiences, and somatic complaints the following day. This temporal association was not paralleled by daytime mental complaints predicting relatively poorer sleep quality on the following night. Our findings show that night-to-night changes in sleep quality predict how individuals cope the next day with daily challenges induced by home confinement.
Developing awareness about sleep quality and its impact on psychological status in situations of stress
Coronavirus, sleep, rumination, somatic symptoms, psychotic-like, stress
Study of resilience and loneliness in youth (18–25 years old) during the COVID‐19 pandemic lockdown measures.Marchini, S., Zaurino, E., Bouziotis, J., Brondino, N., Delvenne, V., & Delhaye, M.published
Aims: This study evaluated the risks and protective factors in mental health in 825 emerging adults aged from 18 to 25 years old in Belgium and in Italy. Resilience, loneliness and social and family context were explored to determine their specific role in coping with the emotional distress that spread worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We conducted an online survey on the secured platform Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap©). Data were collected between April 7th and May 4th 2020. The primary outcomes were the Resilience Scale for Adults (RSA) and the UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) Loneliness Scale. The secondary outcomes included mental health status in terms of professional help-seeking, use of psychotropic drugs, admission to a psychiatric department before and during lockdown measures. Results: Responders were divided into three groups following the mental health care needs (MHCN) before and after the lockdown measures. The group who experienced increase in MHCN represented almost the 5% of the assessed youth. Statistically significant differences were found in means of RSA total score and RSA Perception of Self. Conclusion: This study enlightens the possibly traumatic impact of COVID-19 pandemic on at-risk youth’s mental health. Early detection and intervention should be structured in large-scale disaster.
1. 5% increase of mental health care needs in youth. 2. resilience and peer-to-peer exchange play a protective role to prevent increasing mental health care needs.
Encourage peer-to-peer exchanges for youth during restrictive measures.
youth, mental health, covid-19 pandemic, resilience, loneliness, emerging adulthood, ptsd
Medium-term effects of slackening in social isolation measures on loneliness in youth: a longitudinal prospective study during the COVID-19 lockdown measures and beyond.
Marchini, S., Reis, J., Bouziotis, J., Brondino, N., Delvenne, V., & Delhaye, M.AcceptedN/A
This longitudinal prospective study evaluated the effects of the slackening of social isolation measures on youth mental health in Belgium and in Italy. The relationship between the variation in loneliness feelings between spring 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown measures, and summer 2020, along with resilience competencies has been explored to determine the potential predictive role on medium-terms effects in mental health. We conducted a two-phase online survey from spring 2020 to summer 2020. The primary outcomes were the Resilience Scale for Adults and the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale. The secondary outcomes included mental health status in terms of professional help-seeking, use of psychotropic drugs, admission to a psychiatric department. Participants were divided into three groups according to mental health care needs (MHCN) before and after the lockdown measures. The group who experienced increase in MHCN displayed a significant diminution of loneliness compared to the other groups. The decrease of loneliness is linearly correlated with resilience competencies.
This study enlightens that youth with lower resilience competencies are more sensitive to interpersonal social support.
Develop large-scale resilience strategies, encourage the decrease of social isolation and improve access to mental health care if needed.
COVID-19, mental health, youth, social isolation, loneliness
The theory of planned behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic:
A comparison of health behaviors between Belgian and French residents
Wollast, R., Schmitz, M., Bigot, A., & Luminet, L.Submitted
The COVID-19 pandemic presents a global crisis and authorities have encouraged the population to promote preventive health behaviors to slow the spread of the virus. While the literature on psychological factors influencing health behaviors during the COVID-19 is flourishing, there is a lack of cross-national research focusing on multiple health behaviors. The present study overcomes this limitation and affords a validation of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a conceptual framework for explaining the adoption of handwashing and limitation of social contacts, two health behaviors that highly differ in their nature. Specifically, we compare TPB model on these two protective behaviors among people living in Belgium (N = 3744) and France (N = 1060) during the COVID-19 sanitary crisis. Data were collected from March 18 until April 19, 2020, which corresponds to the spring lockdown and the first peak of the pandemic in these countries. Results indicated that more positive attitudes, greater social pressure, increased perceived control and higher intentions were related to higher adherence to handwashing and limitation of social contacts, for both Belgian and French residents. Ultimately, we argued that the TPB model is a more universal rather than culture-specific process in explaining health behaviors, when comparing handwashing and limitation of social contacts among individuals living in different national contexts.
While specific communication strategies should be encouraged to promote preventive behaviors, they should consider the role of attitudes, social pressure and perceived ability in order to find a balance between physical and mental health.
- governments, policymakers, health institutions, and experts should find out communication plans that support increasing willingness of people through favorable attitudinal changes toward such health behaviors; - These communication strategies should encourage COVID-19 preventive behaviors while taking into account the role of family, peers and colleagues in developing and maintaining health behaviors, as well as the difficulty for some individuals to apply some of these behaviors
COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Theory of Planned Behavior, TPB, Health Behavior
Psychological Distress among Students in Higher Education: One Year after the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Schmits, E., Dekeyser, S., Klein, O., Luminet, O., Yzerbyt, V., & Glowacz, F.published
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the psychological well-being of students. Several stressors (such as socioeconomic and education-related contexts) could influence mental health, as well as individual and relational dimensions. This study proposes to evaluate the predictive effect of these factors on anxiety and depressive symptoms among students in higher education one year after the beginning of the pandemic. A sample of 23,307 students (Mage = 20.89; SD = 1.96; 69.08% of women) was assessed through an online self-report questionnaire including adapted and validated measures. The main rates were as follows: 50.6% of students presented anxiety symptoms; 55.1% reported depressive symptoms; 20.8% manifested suicidal ideations; 42.4% saw their financial situation deteriorate; 39.1% felt they were dropping out of school. One year after the beginning of the pandemic, students in higher education are anxious and depressed, especially those who identify as women (for both anxiety and depression) and as a non-binary gender (only for anxiety), experience a deterioration in their financial situation, are dropping out of school, or manifest hostility (for both anxiety and depression). The degree of study affects the symptoms’ severity (Bachelor 2 and 3 for anxiety and Master for depression). Contact with family and friends (for both anxiety and depression) as well as regular physical activity (only for depression) should provide some protection against psychological distress. Policy-makers must make a long-term investment in the well-being and positive mental health of the student community
It is now important to manage a proper exit from this health crisis and prepare for the complete resumption of student life. In particular, one needs to anticipate the risks of decompensation following such a long period of the psychological distress. This will require appropriate training and the availability of psychological and emotional support. Additional care will also be required for those students who proved unable to access help. It seems essential to mobilize, extend, implement and perpetuate in the long term, within the institutions themselves, services working for the well-being of students, reinforced coaching systems, and systematic recourse to available aid (thus promoting the destigmatization of young people in difficulty). Moreover, these support services must also be supervised and receive the appropriate resources to respond adequately to the specific needs of young people. Educational institutions must understand that they ought to make a long-term investment in the well-being and positive mental health of the student community.
covid-19, mental health, higher education, students, anxiety, depression
HELICON: Unravelling the long-term and indirect health impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Belgium
Devleesschauwer , B.,De Smedt , D.,Gadeyne , S.,Speybroeck , N., Blot, K.,Cavillot , L.,De Pauw , R.,Ghattas , J.,Khan , Y.,Van den Borre , L.,Van Lancker , W.,Vandepitte , S.,Vanroelen , C.,Vanthomme , K., & Verhaeghe , N.
Despite the wealth of information on the current, immediate impact of COVID-19, several knowledge gaps remain on the other dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis impact. To address these knowledge gaps, the HELICON project aims to fulfil three research objectives:

(1) Identify socio-economic and sociodemographic factors of risk and resilience through the assessment of the social patterning of COVID-19 testing, infection, hospitalizations and mortality.
(2) Describe the medium- and long-term direct health impact of COVID-19 infections with regard to healthcare use after COVID hospitalization.
(3) Assess the indirect health impact of the COVID-19 crisis in terms of non-COVID morbidity and mortality and the health economic impact of delayed health care use.
Throughout the project, four guiding principles will be respected – i.e., valorisation of routine administrative health data sources, evaluation of social differentials, evaluation of differentials across the different epidemic waves, and knowledge translation and policy transfer.
The project has started in April 2021. Results on the work packages dedicated to the mental health impact are expected in the spring of 2023.
The immediate impact of HELICON will lie in the generation of new scientific knowledge on the long-term and indirect impact of the corona crisis, and the social inequalities therein. As a secondary objective, HELICON will assess the validity of routine administrative data sources for research on novel health threats such as COVID-19. These findings will have implications for the valorisation and management of administrative health data collections. In the medium and long term, HELICON aims to have a significant impact on policy and public services, with expected gains in terms of health and economic development.
COVID-19, mental health, severe mental health disorder
Intimate Relationships in Times of COVID-19: A Descriptive Study of Belgian Partners and their Perceived Well-Being
Sels, L., Galdiolo, S., Gaugue, J., Geonet, M., Verhelst, P., Chiarolanza, Randall, A.K., Verhofstadt, L.
In press (accepted, not published yet in Psychologica Belgica)
How did couples in Belgium cope during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic? In this study, grounded in relationship science, we investigated in a descriptive manner several factors that could affect how couples perceived individual and relational wellbeing during this time. Specifically, we examined the associations between gender, sexual orientation, parental status, and relationship duration on participants’ self-reported individual and relational well-being after the first lockdown (more generally and more specific in response to COVID-19). Additionally, we investigated if relational well-being predicted perceived change in individual well-being from pre- to post-COVID-19 regulations. To test these hypotheses, self-report data was collected during the Summer of 2020 in both the Dutch and French speaking part of Belgium. Data from 679 participants suggested that individual and relational well-being only differed based on parental status (and not by gender nor sexual orientation). Importantly, parents reported lower relational well-being than participants without children, while participants without children reported higher perceived increases in depression. People that had been in a relationship for longer also reported lower relational well-being, but this relationship was explained by other confounding factors. Relational well-being buffered increases in individual distress that people perceived to have occurred pre-COVID-19 regulations to after COVID-19 regulations went into effect. These findings might inform practice and policy for individuals in a romantic relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The quality of intimate relationships plays a crucial role in people’s mental health and well-being, and the important buffering, or on the contrary harmful role, that intimate relationships can play in people’s well-being during these times should therefore not be overlooked. In our study, relational well-being was indeed associated with less perceived increases in depression, anxiety, and stress during COVID-19.
mental health workers and policy makers may put more effort -either preventative or curative- into fostering high-quality intimate relationships, for example by highlighting the mutually supporting role of partners, especially in times where the partner is often the only source of support. To this end, not only a focus on strengthening the individuals’ relationships by calling on the individuals themselves, but also by addressing constraints of the ecological niche couples are embedded in, might be necessary to improve partners relational and individual outcomes. For instance, special attention could be paid to specific subgroups, and interventions tailored to these subgroups. For parents, interventions that lighten their responsibilities might helpful, in order to allow them to invest more time and energy in their intimate relationship At the same time, couples without children seem to have less relational, but more individual needs in times of stressful events like COVID-19, and it might worthy to explore how both relationship partners can help each other dealing with depressive feelings resulting from restricted life circumstances.
Couples, intimate relationships, well-being, couple satisfaction, families, COVID-19, Corona, mental health