UMass Boston

Findings of UMass Boston’s Center for Survey Research Suggest Pandemic Wearing on Boston Residents

05/18/2020| Colleen Locke

Center for Survey Research Receives NSF Grant to Conduct New COVID-19 Study

Man wearing a mask looking outside the window

New research from UMass Boston’s Center for Survey Research suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a negative impact on the physical and mental health of Boston residents.

Three years ago, the Center for Survey Research received $30,000 from the UMass President’s Office to create a survey about social issues and concerns that would give Bostonians a vehicle to voice their concerns, ideas, experiences, and thoughts about a wide range of topics throughout the year, such as poverty, safety, and participation in the arts.

In fall 2018, researchers on the UMass Boston BEACON project asked Boston residents about their physical health, mental health, and finances. Researchers reinterviewed 302 Boston residents about these same matters two weeks ago.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than three in four BEACON panel participants described their health as excellent or very good. After COVID-19, only one in three panelists described their health as excellent or very good. In addition, before the COVID-19 pandemic, two-thirds of panelists were “not at all” bothered by symptoms of depression, while after COVID-19, only one in three BEACON panel participants were not bothered by depressive symptoms.

“Our survey of Boston residents enrolled in the BEACON Online Panel Study show the strain of living through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of panelists reporting that in the last two weeks they feel depressed or lost interest in doing things has doubled, compared to responses by the same panel members surveyed in 2018. The decline was particularly severe for those whose incomes had declined a lot as a result of the pandemic,” Center for Survey Research Director Lee Hargraves said.

UMass Boston’s Center for Survey Research and Northeastern University’s Boston Area Research Initiative just received a $200,000 grant to conduct a COVID-related study among Boston residents.

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