Olafur Palsson, PsyD
Olafur Palsson, PsyD

Olafur Palsson, PsyD, professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology, led a study investigating the emotional and mental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. The study authors are releasing their findings directly to the public in an effort to provide guidance and understanding to individuals and clinicians as the pandemic evolves.

The findings of a nationwide survey assessing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the emotional wellbeing of the U.S. adult population have been released online. The survey was a collaboration between UNC School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, and was quickly organized to gain an understanding of how individuals are responding to the stressors of isolation and quarantine, record unemployment levels, and the virus’ threat to their health.

“We were very careful to balance the demographics and geographic distribution of survey respondents so that it is an accurate representation of the U.S., and essentially a snapshot of the population,” said principal investigator Olafur Palsson, PsyD, professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology in the UNC School of Medicine.

The study consisted of a nationwide internet survey of 1,500 people conducted during the second half of May, when the pandemic was just beyond its peak in the nation. It is worth noting that the survey ended on May 30, five days after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minnesota. Nearly 90 percent of survey responses were collected before the movement across the U.S. to increase recognition of systemic racism.

Read more in the UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine Newsroom.