2023 SPPAC Bieniak

Bieniak, K. H., Geanous, N., Bedree, H., Tran, S. T., Neff Greenley, R., Miller, S. A., & Buscemi, J. (2023, March). I am trying to be protected and people act like it’s not even happening: Emerging adults with and without chronic medical conditions experiences with COVID-19 [Poster presentation]. Society for Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

I am Trying to be Protected and People Act Like it’s Not Even Happening: Emerging Adults with and without Chronic Medical Conditions Experiences with COVID-19

Keely H. Bieniak, MS 1, Nicole Geanous, BA 1, Helen Bedree, MA 1, Susan T. Tran, PhD 1, Rachel Neff Greenley, PhD 2, Steven A. Miller, PhD 2, & Joanna Buscemi, PhD 1

1 DePaul University, 2 Rosalind Franklin University


Introduction: Significant life changes (e.g., moving away from family, beginning college, or entering the workforce) happen regularly in emerging adulthood. Emerging adults with chronic medical conditions (CMCs) often experience additional changes such as managing their own appointments, financial responsibilities, and symptom management. The full extent of how COVID-19 impacted and changed emerging adulthood remains unclear, especially for those with CMCs. COVID-19 experiences of emerging adults are explored, including how CMC status relates to these experiences.

Methods: Emerging adults (53.7% white, 70.7% female) enrolled at a Midwestern United States University participating in a longitudinal, mixed methods study reported demographic and CMC status prior to COVID-19. At July 2020 and January 2021 follow-ups, participants provided qualitative and quantitative responses regarding experiences with COVID-19 using the COVID-19 Exposure and Family Impact Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale. 

Results: Thematic analysis of qualitative responses (N=126) presented themes including relationships, jobs, and health matters. Health responses highlighted how COVID-19 presented challenges to physical wellbeing with responses such as “The stress triggered an autoimmune disorder” and “I haven’t been able to take one of my medications for almost a year because it weakens my immune system”. Most themes were reported at similar frequencies over time. General stress significantly decreased (t(98)=2.193, p=0.031, d=0.22) in January 2021; COVID-19 related distress did not significantly change. There were no significant differences by CMC status in July 2020. Those with a CMC had significantly higher COVID-19 exposure (t(131)=-2.106, p=0.037, d=-0.36) and distress (t(127)=-1.999, p=0.048, d=-0.35) in January 2021 compared to those without CMCs.

Conclusion: COVID-19 impacts on this emerging adult sample appear widespread. COVID-19 exposure and distress seemed to worsen for those with CMCs, while remaining relatively stable for those without.


<— Take me back to Conference Presentations