International psychological research addressing the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic: A rapid scoping review and implications for global psychology

Martin Obschonka, Qiyue Cai, Athena C.Y. Chan, Scott Marsalis, Sydni A.J. Basha, Sun Kyung Lee, Abigail H. Gewirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Given that keeping abreast of international perspectives and research results is of particular importance for such massive global emergencies, we employed a scoping review methodology to rapidly map the field of international psychological research addressing this important early phase of the pandemic. We included a total of 79 studies, with data mostly collected between March and June 2020. This review aimed to systematically identify and map the nature and scope of international studies examining psychological aspects of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. We mapped key research themes, subfields of psychology, the nature and extent of international research collaboration, data methods employed, and challenges and enablers faced by psychological researchers in the early stages of the pandemic. Among the wide range of themes covered, mental health and social behaviours were the key themes. Most studies were in clinical/health psychology and social psychology. Network analyses revealed how authors collaborated and to what extent the studies were international. Europe and the United States were often at the centre of international collaboration. The predominant study design was cross-sectional and online with quantitative analyses. We also summarised author reported critical challenges and enablers for international psychological research during the COVID pandemic, and conclude with implications for the field of psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Michael Beckstrand, PhD, LATIS, University of Minnesota, for creating the network visualisations, and Kate Carlson, U‐Spatial, University of Minnesota for creating the choropleth maps. Funding for the use of COVIDENCE was provided by non‐sponsored funding at the University of Minnesota to Dr. Gewirtz.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Union of Psychological Science.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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