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J Public Health (Oxf) ; 2022 Oct 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2051532


BACKGROUND: In this longitudinal cohort study, we examined the socio-demographic and psychological predictors of alcohol use initiation during the COVID-19 pandemic in a sample of never alcohol users aged ≥21 prior to COVID-19. METHODS: Our study population consisted of 56 930 patients aged ≥21, as of 30 March 2019 were collected from a pre-COVID period of 1 year before 31 March 2020, and during-COVID, a period between 1 April 2020 and 30 March 2021. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were utilized to examine the roles of socio-demographic variables (gender, age, education, Area Deprivation Index and rural residence) changes in anxiety and depression severity as predictors of alcohol use initiation. RESULTS: Age, gender, race, ethnicity, education and rural status were significant predictors in multivariable analysis. A subgroup analysis showed neither anxiety nor depression had a significant association with alcohol use initiation. CONCLUSION: Women, younger individuals, those living in a rural area and people who smoke cigarettes were more likely to initiate alcohol use during the pandemic. Our study has public health and clinical implications such as the need for targeted alcohol use screening and intervention for vulnerable individuals.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med ; 2021: 5924040, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305520


Research suggests that multiple forms of relaxation training (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, visualization, and autogenics) can help individuals reduce stress, enhance relaxation states, and improve overall well-being. We examined three different, commonly used approaches to stress relaxation-progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and guided imagery-and evaluated them in a head-to-head comparison against each other and a control condition. Sixty healthy undergraduate participants were randomized to one of the four conditions and completed 20 minutes of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, or guided imagery training that was delivered by recorded audio instruction. Baseline and follow-up assessment of psychological relaxation states were completed. Physiological relaxation was also assessed continuously using measures of electrodermal activity and heart rate. Results showed that progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and guided imagery all increased the state of relaxation for participants in those groups, compared to participants in the control group. In each case, the increase was statistically significant and although the groups did not differ on relaxation before training, all groups were significantly higher on relaxation after training, as compared to the control group. Progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery showed an immediate linear trend toward physiological relaxation, compared to the control group, and the deep breathing group showed an immediate increase in physiological arousal followed quickly by a return to initial levels. Our results lend support to the body of research showing that stress relaxation training can be effective in improving relaxation states at both the psychological and physiological level. Future research could examine stress relaxation techniques in a similar manner using designs where multiple techniques can be compared in the same samples.