COVID-19 state anxiety of older adults: effects of defensive information processes

Shira Peleg*, Gabriel Nudelman, Shoshana Shiloh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: To explore coping processes used by adults aged 60 and above (defined as high age-related risk group) in reaction to the COVID-19 threat, and the associations between these processes and state anxiety. Design and Methods: A cross-sectional study with 498 respondents of an online survey, 72 (15%) in the high age-related risk group. Questionnaires measured: background variables, state anxiety, and COVID-19 related perceptions. Results: The high age-related risk group perceived the coronavirus as more severe, their belongingness to a risk group as higher, and the behavioral recommendations as more effective compared to the low age-related risk group. The part of perceived vulnerability that is not explained by belonging to an age-related risk group (defined as residual perceived vulnerability) was lower in the high age-related risk group. Mediation analysis indicated that the high (compared to the low) age-related risk group had lower anxiety levels, and that this effect was mediated by lower residual perceived vulnerability and higher perceived disease severity levels. Conclusions: The higher age-related risk group maintains a relatively moderate level of anxiety without denying their belonging to a high risk group. This can be explained by defensive processing of COVID-19 related information and by developmental processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


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