The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant psychological consequences among the public, especially for people in the epicenter. This study examined the ‘bull's eye’ model by comparing the level of psychological distress and the effect of different stressors in Wuhan (the original epicenter) with that in the surrounding areas in Hubei Province during the pandemic. Data were obtained from a cross-national survey of 10 478 respondents between the ages of 18 and 80 years in Hubei Province during the peak of the pandemic. Results of the ordinary least squares regression models showed that Wuhan residents experienced more psychological distress than those in the surrounding areas. Social and economic problems caused by the pandemic, risk exposure, perceived discrimination, and information-seeking behaviors were positively associated with distress. Social assistance was negatively associated with distress. Findings were consistent with the bull's eye model by revealing both a higher level of psychological distress and a stronger effect of stressors among the Wuhan residents than with those in low-risk areas. Thus, policymakers and psychological workers should provide adequate psychological services in high-risk areas. Lowering risk exposure, reducing discrimination against people in the epicenter, and improving information quality are essential to alleviate their psychological distress.
Bibliographical noteThis work was supported by The China Academy of Science and Technology Development Strategy and the major project of the National Social Science Fund ‘China Social Quality Basic Database Construction’ (Project ID: 16ZDA079). We thank the China Academy of Science and Technology Development Strategy, the Social Policy Research Institute at Renmin University, and the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences for providing us the data.
© The Author(s) 2022.