Since its arrival in East Tennessee, the coronavirus has affected everyone’s life and caused people to adjust in ways they probably never anticipated.
Whether it is the devastating loss of a family member or job, working from home instead of an office or everyday practices of wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing, change has been the operative word.
Two Tusculum University professors are exploring that impact and are seeking community participation in an initial survey they have developed as part of a research project on the subject. Dr. Kate Smith, an associate professor of psychology, and Dr. Hollie Pellosmaa, an assistant professor of psychology, are seeking at least 200 participants in the survey, and anyone who is 18 or older is eligible to participate.
“The study is composed of a host of measures that look at a wide variety of topics, including health behaviors, mental health outcomes, economic security and social factors,” Dr. Smith said. “We hope to collect data over 18 months to get a better idea on the long-term effects of the pandemic. By seeking the community’s assistance, we will not only receive an ample sample of voices but learn firsthand how the coronavirus has shaped people’s lives.”
People can take the survey online and then will be entered into a drawing to win one of three Amazon gift cards. The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and is available until 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 22. Dr. Smith and Dr. Pellosmaa will issue other surveys as their research progresses.
“The immediate goal of our findings would be to detail the exact impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the community,” Dr. Smith said. “From there, the hope would be to use this knowledge to identify issues people are experiencing. Various professionals might then be able to assist in the recovery process, which, in some instances, could be lengthy. Finally, this study may potentially recommend topics for policy makers to examine to help plan for future events of this nature. Identifying vulnerabilities during such emergencies can only help us provide better relief in the future.”
Dr. Smith said she and Dr. Pellosmaa plan to present findings from their research at psychology conferences and publish them in professional journals. She said they would also be pleased discuss general results with the community.
All individual information from the survey will be kept confidential, and research findings will be presented in reports and public presentations as group data only.
“Dr. Smith and Dr. Pellosmaa have demonstrated excellent scholarship during their careers, and this research project will provide a valuable service in helping communities and the region understand how the coronavirus has altered people’s lives,” said Dr. Heather Henson-Ramsey, dean of the College of Science, Technology and Mathematics. “We welcome the opportunity to engage with communities throughout the region on this major public health topic and thank people who will participate in the surveys.”