Coping strategies associated to widespread fear and post-traumatic stress criteria in a Mexican sample during COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study

Sarah Margarita Chávez-Valdez, Alejandro Domínguez Rodríguez, Oscar Armando Esparza-Del Villar, Ma. Jesús Hernández Jiménez, Anabel de la Rosa-Gómez, Paulina Arenas-Landgrave, Sofía Cristina Martínez-Luna, Flor Rocío Ramírez-Martínez, Jasshel Teresa Salinas-Saldívar



Introduction. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the population generating widespread fear due to people’s perception that both their health and safety are at risk. Widespread fear, a synonym for social anxiety, is associated with affective intrusive cognitions. Likewise, it is related to symptoms of post-traumatic stress, physiological intrusive and eluding coping responses, and could be associated with long-term vulnerability to develop PTSD.

Objective. To assess the association between coping strategies, widespread fear to COVID-19, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in Mexican population exposed to the SARS-CoV2 pandemic.

Method. A cross sectional, empirical, descriptive study through survey research was performed; 370 participants were sampled by nationality quotas, and they completed digital self-informed instruments on an on-line psychosocial intervention. Sample size was estimated using a power analysis.

Results. Findings showed reliable indicators between physiological coping and PTSD symptoms. There was a 42% variance related to PTSD delayed intrusive cognitive responses, a 40% variance was related to PTSD negative alterations in cognitions and mood, a 31% variance was explained by hyperarousal responses, and a 29% of the variance represented PTSD avoidance symptoms. Widespread fear of COVID-19 was explained by affective behavioral coping strategies linked also to PTSD symptoms.

Discussion and conclusion. Research found consistency between findings and theories on emotion-centered strategies, which in turn were are related to affective coping around widespread fear to COVID-19 and avoidance intrusive symptoms, physiological coping with avoidance, considering future community post-traumatic stress traits and anxiety disorders in Mexican communities exposed to the pandemic, linking strategies with community trauma.


Coping strategies; widespread fear; post-traumatic stress; Mexican population

Full Text:



American Psychiatric Association [APA]. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - DSM-5 (5th ed.). Arlington, V.A.: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 395(10227), 912-920. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). Chapter 3 - Understanding the impact of trauma. In Trauma-informed care in behavioral health services. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). Retrieved from

Chávez-Valdez, S. M., & Ríos Velasco-Moreno, L. G. (2018). Manejo de miedo juvenil: Afrontamiento ante la violencia e ineficacia social. Guadalajara, México: Centro de estudios e investigaciones para el desarrollo docente CENID A.C. Retrieved from

Chávez-Valdez, S. M., Esparza-Del Villar, O. A., & Ríos Velasco-Moreno, L. (2020). Validation of a Scale of Post-traumatic Stress Traits in the Mexican Youth Exposed to Social Violence. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 29(10), 1176-1188. doi: 10.1080/10926771.2019.1710635

Chavez-Valdez, S. M., Esparza-Del Villar, O. A., Ríos Velasco-Moreno, L., & Relojo-Howell, D. (2019). Eight crime factor model for youths in Mexican violence contexts. Psychology & Society Journal, 76(2), 98-107. doi: 10.35774/pis2019.02.098

Cherewick, M., Doocy, S., Tol, W., Burnham, G., & Glass, N. (2016). Potentially traumatic events, coping strategies and associations with mental health and well-being measures among conflict-affected youth in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Global Health Research and Policy, 1(1), 8. doi: 10.1186/s41256-016-0007-6

Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155-159. doi: 10.1037//0033-2909.112.1.155

Flory, J. D., & Yehuda, R. (2015). Comorbidity between post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder: Alternative explanations and treatment considerations. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 17(2), 141-150. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2015.17.2/jflory/

Fonseca Vindas, K., & Sandoval García, C. (2006). Medios de comunicación e (in)seguridad ciudadana en Costa Rica. San José, Costa Rica: Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo. Retrieved from

Germani, A., Buratta, L., Delvecchio, E., & Mazzeschi, C. (2020). Emerging adults and COVID-19: The role of individualism-collectivism on perceived risks and psychological maladjustment. International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health, 17(10), 3497. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17103497

Gil, S. (2005). Coping style in predicting posttraumatic stress disorder among Israeli students. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 18(4), 351-359. doi: 10.1080/10615800500392732

Hooberman, J., Rosenfeld, B., Rasmussen, A., & Keller, A. (2010). Resilience in trauma-exposed refugees: The moderating effect of coping style on resilience variables. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(4), 557-563. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2010.01060

Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (4th ed.). New York, N.Y.: Guilford Publications.

Kummer, A., & Harsanyi, E. (2008). Flashbacks in social anxiety disorder: Psychopathology of a case. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(3), 200-201. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.43637

Martínez, W., Galván, J., Saavedra, N., & Berenzon, S. (2017). Barriers to integrating mental health services in community-based primary care settings in Mexico City: A qualitative analysis. Psychiatric Services, 68(5), 497-502. doi: 10.1176/

Miguel-Tobal, J. J., & Cano-Vindel, A. (2002). Inventario de situaciones y respuestas de ansiedad (ISRA): Manual/Inventory of Situations and Responses of Anxiety (ISRA). Manual (5 rev. ed.). Madrid: TEA.

Montero, I., & León, O. G. (2007). A guide for naming research studies in Psychology. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 7(3), 847-862. Retrieved from:

Najdowski, C. J., & Ullman, S. E. (2009). PTSD symptoms and self-rated recovery among adult sexual assault survivors: The effects of traumatic life events and psychosocial variables. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33(1), 43-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.01473.x

Nicola, M., Alsafi, Z., Sohrabi, C., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A., Iosifidis, C., ... Agha, R. (2020). The socio-economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19): A review. International Journal of Surgery, 78, 185-193. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2020.04.018

Person, B., Sy, F., Holton, K., Govert, B., Liang, A., Garza, B., ... Zauderer, L. (2004). Fear and stigma: The epidemic within the SARS outbreak. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10(2), 358-363. doi: 10.3201/eid1002.030750

Pineda, D. A., Guerrero, O. L., Pinilla, M. L., & Estupiñan, M. (2002). Utilidad de un cuestionario para rastreo de estrés postraumático en una población colombiana. Acta Neurológica Colombiana, 18(3), 132-138. Retrieved from

Robson, D. (2020). The threat of contagion can twist our psychological responses to ordinary interactions, leading us to behave in unexpected ways. BBC News, 1-7. Retrieved from

Ruiz Pérez, J. I. (2007). Cultura ciudadana, miedo al crimen y victimización: Un análisis de sus interrelaciones desde la perspectiva del tejido social. Acta Colombiana de Psicología, 10(1), 65-74. Retrieved from

Talevi, D., Socci, V., Carai, M., Carnaghi, G., Faleri, S., Trebbi, E., ... Pacitti, F. (2020). Mental health outcomes of the CoViD-19 pandemic. Rivista di Psichiatria, 55(3), 137-144. doi: 10.1708/3382.33569

Thompson, N. J., Fiorillo, D., Rothbaum, B. O., Ressler, K. J., & Michopoulos, V. (2018). Coping strategies as mediators in relation to resilience and posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 225, 153-159. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.08.049

Vuanello, R. (2006). Un nuevo instrumento de evaluación psicológica: el Cuestionario de Inseguridad Urbana (CIU). Interdisciplinaria, 23(1), 17-45. Retrieved from

World Health Organization [WHO]. (2020). WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. Retrieved from (Last cited: June 27, 2020)