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Health Starting Points: Continuity and Change in Physical and Mental Health Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

NCJ Number
Date Published
3 pages

This article presents the authors’ examination of Americans’ health and well-being over time; it discusses their research methodology and findings regarding Americans’ physical and emotional health issues during the Covid-19 pandemic.


The Covid-19 pandemic has created multiple changes in the lives of Americans, with growing and widespread concerns about the implications for the nation’s health and well-being. Most empirical examinations of the physical and mental health implications of the pandemic have rested on aggregate comparisons of pre-pandemic and pandemic indicators of health. The authors contribute to this body of work by considering continuity and change in health and well-being over time. The authors draw on respondents in a population-based sample with repeated health measures of physical health, depressive symptoms, and anxiety collected prior to the pandemic and subsequently during the pandemic. Using Sankey figures, the authors illustrate their health pathways and as a result highlight the importance of a longitudinal lens on assessments of health. The authors find that health starting points are critical to understanding distribution and levels of physical and emotional health issues during the pandemic. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2021