Psychology Meets Biology in COVID-19: What We Know and Why It Matters for Public Health

Date/time: January 21, 2022, @ 12:00-2:30 PM ET

Psychologists have long explored the role of psychological and social factors in health inequalities. This has included understanding the role of these factors in our responses to viral infections and vaccinations. Factors such as loneliness, stress, culture, and social standing have been repeatedly shown to predict not only mental health but also COVID-19-relevant outcomes such as inflammation, general immune protection, likelihood of viral infection after virus exposure, symptom severity, and even the effectiveness of vaccines. There has never been a more critical time for this information to be shared and discussed broadly. 

At this event, you will learn from leading scientists about what was known about the importance of psychosocial factors for health and physiology before the COVID-19 pandemic, and what this evidence tells us about the importance of these factors now. We will reveal how pandemic survival and recovery is not just about whether you get the virus; it’s also about the complex interactions between the virus, ourselves, our social surroundings, and so much more. Join our scientists and our expert discussants for a lively debate on how these factors impact public health, what we know and don’t know, and what we can do to maximize the health and well-being of a global population ravaged by this pandemic. 

Organized by:

Kavita Vedhara and Kieran Ayling, University of Nottingham; Sarah Pressman and Cameron Wiley, University of California, Irvine; and Anna Marsland and Emily Jones, University of Pittsburgh

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PART 1: Prepandemic insights

Evidence from before the COVID-19 pandemic on the psychological, social, contextual, and behavioral influences on viral and infectious disease outcomes. 

Keely Muscatell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Biological Mechanisms Linking Psychological Processes and Infectious Disease Outcomes

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Anna MarslandUniversity of Pittsburgh

Psychological Influences on Vulnerability to Viruses

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Rodlescia SneedMichigan State University

Social and Psychological Factors Contributing to Pre-Pandemic Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Health

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PART 2: Pandemic insights

Evidence from the COVID-19 and related literature on the psychological, social, and behavioral impact of the pandemic (e.g., lockdowns, social distancing, school closures, bereavement) and the potential implications for COVID-19 outcomes. 

Adam GeraghtyUniversity of Southampton

Data on Psychological and Behavioral Impact of the Pandemic

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Kavita VedharaUniversity of Nottingham 

Has Mental Health Affected Physical Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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Hannah SchreierThe Pennsylvania State University

Early Life Experiences and Risk and Resilience Among Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Julianne Holt-LunstadBrigham Young University

Social Connection: What Decades of Research and a Global Pandemic has Taught Us… and What We Still Don’t Know

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Judith MoskowitzNorthwestern University 

A Positive Emotion Skills Intervention for Coping with COVID

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PART 3: The road to recovery

Psychobiological influences on inflammation/long COVID and responses to vaccines. 

Julie Bower, University of California, Los Angeles

Inflammation and Behavior: From Sickness Behavior to Long COVID

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Neetu AbadU.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mobilizing Communities to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake: CDC’s Vaccine Confidence and Demand Strategy

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Aric PratherUniversity of California, San Francisco

Psychological and Behavioral Factors Associated with Vaccination Response: Implications for the COVID-19 Vaccine

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Discussion led by:

Canada Research Chair in Population Disease Modelling and associate professor in the department of population medicine, Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.

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Freelance science writer focused on the interplay between human brain, body and behavior at the extremes.

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Distinguished professor of psychological science, medicine, and public health at the University of California, Irvine.

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This free special event is part of the APS Global Collaboration on COVID-19.