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Social Connectivity and Coping Among Vulnerable Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Moore EM, Gabrielian SE, Zito MF, Kozikowski SD, Lopez JR, Lesgart M, Green MF. Social Connectivity and Coping Among Vulnerable Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved. 2023 Aug 1; 34(3):1051-1059.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic dramatically changed how people socialized. However, little is known about the extent to which the pandemic changed the social connections of people with tenuous interpersonal relationships at baseline, including homeless-experienced people and people with psychotic disorders. We sought to understand how these populations experienced changes in their social connectivity and to identify coping strategies employed. We conducted 43 semi-structured interviews with 27 vulnerable participants (11 homeless-experienced people and 16 people with psychotic disorders) and 16 comparison group participants, all of whom used services at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Vulnerable participants in both groups had sparse prepandemic social connectedness; few perceived pandemic-related social network changes. While many homeless-experienced participants struggled with transitioning to technology to communicate, participants with psychotic disorders used technology to stay connected. Resilience derived from military service experiences was adaptive during the pandemic, complemented by VA services that provided supports.