A qualitative study of social anxiety and impairment amid the COVID-19 pandemic for adolescents and young adults in Portugal and the US

Translated title of the contribution: A qualitative study of social anxiety and impairment amid the COVID-19 pandemic for adolescents and young adults in Portugal and the US

Samantha Coyle, Paula Vagos, Carrie Masia Warner, Joana Silva, Ana Xavier, Grace Martin, Jessica Wimmer, Avi Kalver, Britney Jeyanayagam, Helen Maria Lekas, Ana Ganho-Ávila, Luiza Lima, Ana Santos Henrique

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

This qualitative investigation explored the social and academic experiences of socially anxious adolescents and young adults in Portugal and the US as they lived through the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were 10 Portuguese adolescents (mean age = 16.9 years; 50% female) and 7 young adults in the US (mean age = 19.67 years; 71% female; racially/ethnically diverse). Participants completed a semi-structured interview evaluating how the pandemic and social restrictions impacted social anxiety symptoms and associated functional impairment in social and academic domains. Thematic analysis was used to categorize responses across developmental stages and countries. Findings show consistent patterns across cultures, with symptoms of SAD extending to virtual contexts. Participants reported avoidance behaviors that were reinforced by social distancing mandates and declines in academic engagement during remote learning. Anticipatory anxiety about the return to normal social routines was also evident. Schools should be aware of the impact of social confinement on socially anxious students as they return to in person school schedules and social demands.

Translated title of the contributionA qualitative study of social anxiety and impairment amid the COVID-19 pandemic for adolescents and young adults in Portugal and the US
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-131
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Education and Psychology
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Academic impairment
  • Social anxiety
  • Social isolation

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