ObjectiveWhen facing major emergency public accidents, men and women may react differently. Our research aimed to assess the influence of gender difference on social support, information preference, biological rhythm, psychological distress, and the possible interaction among these factors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MethodsIn this cross-sectional study, 3,237 respondents aged 12 years and older finished the online survey. Levels of social support, information preference, biological rhythm, and psychological distress were assessed using validated scales. A path analysis was conducted to explore possible associations among these variables.
ResultsThe path analysis indicated that women with high levels of social support had a lower possibility of biological rhythm disorders and lower levels of somatization symptoms of psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. The influence of social support on somatization symptoms was exerted via biological rhythm. Women tended to believe both negative and positive information, while men preferred more extreme information.
ConclusionOur results highlighted gender difference in study variables during the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of social support in alleviating psychological distress and biological rhythm disorders. Moreover, we confirmed that information preference differed significantly by somatization symptoms of psychological distress, suggesting extra efforts to provide more individualized epidemic information. Longitudinal research is required to further explore casual inferences.