"Life is hard": How the COVID-19 pandemic affected daily stressors of women

Dialogues Health. 2022 Dec:1:100018. doi: 10.1016/j.dialog.2022.100018. Epub 2022 Jun 3.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic radically and rapidly altered Americans' daily life as they navigated quarantines, school closings, job insecurity, and disrupted social activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women who have reported higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression related to the pandemic compared to men. The study explored how the COVID-19 pandemic affected daily stressors of women. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected simultaneously using an online questionnaire from female participants (N = 531) who were 18 years of age or older and residing, employed, or accessing health care in Arkansas. A qualitative descriptive approach was used to summarize and synthesize participants' experiences and perceptions. Qualitative data allowed respondents to describe their lived experiences of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected them from their perspective. Four primary themes related to participants' experiences of stress related to the COVID-19 outbreak are reported: 1) employment and expenses, 2) social distancing, 3) caregiving, and 4) emotional/mental health. Several subthemes emerged within primary themes. The study documented respondents' lived experiences and how COVID-19 stress increased anxiety, depression, fear, and frustration. These findings contribute important nuances about women's experiences of stress caused by COVID-19 and can inform future health policies to address women's health post-pandemic and in future health crises. This study makes a significant contribution to the literature as the first article that uses qualitative methods to document sources of COVID-19 pandemic stress for women in their own words.

Keywords: COVID-19; Gender; Mental health; Stress; Women's health.