No Significant Changes in Addictive and Problematic Behaviors During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Related Lockdowns: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Study

Frontiers in Psychology 13 (2022)
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Abstract

IntroductionThe COVID-19 outbreak and related lockdowns brought substantial changes in people’s lives and led to concerns about possible increases of addictive behaviors at the initial stages of the pandemic. To examine these concerns, the aim of the present study was to assess longitudinal changes in addictive and problematic behaviors over time during the COVID-19 pandemic.MethodsThree waves of data collection took place in different stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in Hungary in a general population, from the first wave of lockdowns to the second and third waves of restrictions. Latent growth curve models were calculated to assess the potential changes in addictive and problematic behaviors over time.ResultsLatent growth curve models showed that the sample varied in their initial scores, but there were no significant changes over time in any of the examined behaviors, except for compulsive sexual behavior disorder, which demonstrated a small but significant increase. However, the rate of this change was negligible. Overall, there were no noteworthy changes over time regarding any of the examined addictive and problematic behaviors.ConclusionContrary to initial concerns, no substantial changes over time were observed regarding the examined addictive behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns. These findings indicate that those who had no previous problem with these addictive behaviors, might have not developed a problem, and those who had problem with either of the behaviors previously, might have not experienced a significant increase in their symptoms.

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Mark Griffiths
Deakin University

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