“This is going to stay”: a longitudinal mixed method pilot study on the psychological impact of living through a pandemic

Toral Mandrekar, Sahen Gupta

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Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has been proven to have psychological impacts among individuals in both sport and non-sport populations. However, there is little available research comparing athlete and non-athlete populations in this context, especially among a non-western sample. This study employs a novel, longitudinal mixed method sequential explanatory research design to compare the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic between athlete and non-athlete populations and the role of physical activity. Phase A was a quantitative study measuring the psychological impact using the Impact of Event Scale-Revised among both groups (n  =  32). Phase B was a qualitative study, with a sample (n  =  7) participating in experiential interviews, exploring the lived experiences of participants over a 7-month period since Phase A was completed. Results indicated that athletes had lower psychological impact of the pandemic compared to non-athletes. Reflexive thematic analysis indicated that over the 7-month longitudinal period, athletes and non-athletes had different experiences across the themes of ‘Appraisal and Coping’, ‘Cognitions’, and ‘Impact of the Pandemic’. Findings show A) a clear longitudinal impact of COVID-19 over a 7-month period; B) there is a clear contrast between sport and non-sport populations, with participants indicating sport and physical activity to be a protective factor limiting negative psychological impact. Findings are discussed with recommendations for physical activity and sport for reducing psychological impact among both athletes and non-athletes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIllness, Crisis & Loss
Early online date10 Aug 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 10 Aug 2022


  • mental health
  • sport
  • longitudinal
  • India
  • mixed method
  • non-western


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