Uncertainty and psychological distress during COVID-19: What about protective factors?

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3 Scopus citations


The present study examined the relationship between perceived uncertainty and depression/ anxiety symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic and it tested the moderating roles of resilience and perceived social support in this relationship. A cross-sectional study was conducted between March 31st and May 15th, 2020, using an online, multi-language, international survey built within Qualtrics. We collected data on sociodemographic features, perceived uncertainty, perceived social support, depression and anxiety symptoms, and resilience. A moderation model was tested using model 2 of Hayes’ PROCESS macro for SPSS. The study included 3786 respondents from 94 different countries, 47.7% of whom reported residence in the United States of America. Results demonstrated that higher perceived uncertainty was associated with more symptoms of depression and anxiety. Higher resilience levels and higher perceived social support were associated with fewer depression and anxiety symptoms. The moderation hypotheses were supported; the relationship between uncertainty and symptoms of depression and anxiety decreased as levels of resilience increased and as perceived social support increased. The results suggest that resilience and social support could be helpful targets to reduce the negative effects of uncertainty on depression and anxiety symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21470-21477
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number25
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Part of Dr. al’Absi’s time was supported by grants from the National Institute of Health (R01DA016351 and R01DA027232).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Resilience
  • Social support
  • Uncertainty

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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