The COVID-19 Pandemic as a Social Stressor: Psychological and Psychiatric Risk Factors (Based on Foreign Studies)



Objective. Systematization of the main factors of psychological and psychiatric risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, identified in foreign studies. Background. The need to clarify ideas about the determination of psychological and psychiatric problems caused by the socially stressful impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is dictated primarily by the demands of practice. The relevance of actions in this direction is determined by the continuing instability of the epidemiological and socio-economic situation, the need for prompt and wide coverage of those in need with programs of psychological and psychiatric care, the fragmentation and inconsistency of existing information about the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of the population. Methodology. A theoretical analysis of literature sources describing foreign studies of psychological and psychiatric risk factors against the background of a pandemic was carried out; using a comparative analytical method, the meaning and degree of knowledge of situational and individual factors are determined. Conclusions. The general features of studies conducted by psychologists and psychiatrists from different countries against the background of the coronavirus threat were revealed (the predominance of the remote format, the reduction in the variety and volume of diagnostic tools, the use of large-scale samples). The main factors of psychological and psychiatric risk affecting the population in the context of the spread of coronavirus are divided into situational and individual. The factors of the first group are differentiated according to their degree of specificity for the COVID-19 pandemic, while in the second group, socio-demographic and medico-psychological factors are distinguished. It is shown that individual psychological characteristics that can determine the nature of a person’s response to a pandemic remain the least studied and clarification of their composition is an urgent scientific and practical task.

General Information

Keywords: pandemic, COVID-19, coronavirus threat, social stress, psychological and psychiatric risk factors, mental health

Journal rubric: Theoretical Research

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Lukovtseva Z.V. The COVID-19 Pandemic as a Social Stressor: Psychological and Psychiatric Risk Factors (Based on Foreign Studies) . Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2020. Vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 13–25. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2020110402. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)



Information About the Authors

Zoya V. Lukovtseva, PhD in Psychology, Docent, Associate Professor, Chair of Clinical and Forensic Psychology, Faculty of Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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