The mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and exposure to other potentially traumatic events up to old age

We investigated whether the impact of potentially traumatic events (PTEs) on trauma-related symptoms changes across the transitional adult lifespan (i.e., 16–100 years old) and if this association differs for self-reported COVID-19–related PTEs compared to other PTEs. A web-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 7,034 participants from 88 countries between late April and October 2020. Participants completed the Global Psychotrauma Screen (GPS), a self-report questionnaire assessing trauma-related symptoms. Data were analyzed using linear and logistic regression analyses and general linear models.


We found that older age was associated with lower GPS total symptom scores, B = −0.02, p < .001; this association remained significant but was substantially weaker for self-reported COVID-19–related PTEs compared to other PTEs, B = 0.02, p = .009. The results suggest an association between older age and lower ratings of trauma-related symptoms on the GPS, indicating a blunted symptom presentation. This age-related trend was smaller for self-reported COVID-19–related PTEs compared to other PTEs, reflecting the relatively higher
impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults.

Demi C. D. Havermans, Chris M. Hoeboer, Sjacko Sobczak, Indira Primasari, Bruno M. Coimbra, Ani Hovnanyan, Irina Zrnic Novakovic, Rachel Langevin, Helene F. Aakvaag, Emma Grace, Malgorzata Dragan, Brigitte Lueger-Schuster, Wissam El-Hage, Miranda Olff | 2023
In: Journal of Traumatic Stress ; ISSN: 1573-6598
Online ahead of print DOI: 10.1002/jts.22937
Anxiety Disorders, COVID-19 (en), Depressive Disorders, Diagnosis, Elderly, Epidemics, Instruments, Mental health, Natural Disasters, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosocial impact, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Statistical Analysis, Traumatic events
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