The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) has led to a serious outbreak of often severe respiratory disease, which originated in China and has quickly spread around the world. As public health officials seek to contain the virus and mitigate the deleterious effects on worldwide population health, a related threat has emerged: global media exposure to the crisis.
Media-based stories of traumatic events expand the events’ boundaries from geographically constrained to virtually boundless experiences, transforming local events into widespread collective traumas. Although access to media stories about these events may appropriately inform us about events in our world, prolonged expo-sure to media coverage also may serve to amplify and heighten public anxiety and fear.
While journalists and public health officials worked to communicate critical information globally regarding risk assessments and recommendations, a related threat emerged: psychological distress resulting from repeated media exposure to the outbreak. This has implications not only for immediate suffering in the population, but for downstream effects on physical and mental health over time. These heightened distress responses to media exposure to collective crises may have long-term repercussions for physical health.
Today's special guest Dr. Alison Holman’s work is focused on understanding the ties between mental and physical health consequences of traumatic life events, with a specific focus on preventing trauma-related mental and physical. Dr. Holman has been Principal Investigator on several community-based studies of coping with trauma funded by the National Science Foundation, Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She and her collaborators are currently working on a large national study of coping with the Coronavirus outbreak.