Age differences in coping and emotional responses toward SARS: a longitudinal study of Hong Kong Chinese

Aging Ment Health. 2007 Sep;11(5):579-87. doi: 10.1080/13607860601086355.


This study examined age-related emotional responses and coping at the peak and the end of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong. Three hundred and eighty-five Hong Kong Chinese, aged 18-86 years, rated the extent that they experienced 'shock', 'sadness', 'anger' and 'fear' in the face of SARS. They also completed selected items from Brief COPE (Carver, 1997). The results showed that older adults consistently experienced less anger than did their younger counterparts. Younger adults used more emotion-focused coping than did middle-aged and older adults at the peak of SARS; yet they exhibited the lowest increase in this form of coping throughout the outbreak, such that the age differences had reversed by the end of the outbreak. Findings of this study suggest that older adults may be better at emotional regulation than are their younger counterparts, they react to a crisis with less anger and are better able to adapt their coping strategies to the changing environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • China / ethnology
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / psychology*