Psychosom Med. 2024 Mar 25. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000001304. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Prior work suggests psychological resilience to trauma may protect not only mental but also physical health. This study examined the relationship of pre-pandemic psychological resilience to lifetime trauma with self-reported COVID-19 infection and symptoms during the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: Data are from 18,670 longitudinal cohort participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Based on prior evidence that trauma and subsequent distress can increase infection risk and severity, and that psychological assets may offset this risk, we hypothesized higher versus lower psychological resilience to prior trauma would be associated with lower risk for COVID-19 infection. Pre-pandemic resilience was assessed via self-report between 2017-2019 based on self-reported lifetime trauma exposure and psychological health. COVID-19 infection and symptoms were self-reported on 7 questionnaires administered between May 2020 – October 2021, from which we derived a composite outcome measure of probable COVID-19 infection, defined as having 3+ COVID-19 symptoms (out of 9) and/or a positive COVID-19 test result at any single assessment.

RESULTS: Multivariable regression revealed significant associations between higher pre-pandemic resilience scores and lower risk for probable COVID-19 infection, adjusting for socio-demographic and COVID-19-related risk factors (RR = 0.90 [95% CI 0.87, 0.93]). Considering subcomponents of the composite COVID-19 infection measure separately, pre-pandemic resilience was significantly associated with lower risk of reported symptoms (RR = 0.83 [95% CI 0.79, 0.88]), but not with a positive test result alone (RR = 0.96 (95% CI 0.91, 1.01]).

CONCLUSION: Identifying protective factors for infection risk may help inform psychosocial interventions to improve health outcomes.

PMID:38573019 | DOI:10.1097/PSY.0000000000001304