A research team from the University of Calgary has identified that men and women take COVID-19 isolation differently and it has different effects on them. The researchers tried to study the gender-based differences in mood, sleep duration/quality, and emotional health during a home isolation period, caused by COVID-19.
The senior researchers from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute were examining how these factors differ in men and women and found that women are more likely to experience the drastic effects. They were more likely to experience troubling sleeping, stress, depression, trauma, and anxiety by COVID-19 isolation. This effect was somehow not much prominent in men. The complete study findings are now published in the journal Frontiers in Global Women’s Health.
This is probably the first study that has tried to identify the gender-based changes caused by a traumatic event like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Veronica Guadagni, one of the researchers in this experiment collected data through an online survey between March and June 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak.
At this time, most of the educational institutes were closed, people were trying to avoid going out because of the uncertainty with this disease. In general, everyone was trying to follow rules which advised them to stay at home to prevent infection transmission.
These results were obtained after analyzing the data from 573 participants. Among them, 112 were men and 459 were women. The average age of these people was 25.9 years. At least 66% of these participants reported sleeping irregularities, 39% of them confirmed insomnia, caused by COVID-19 isolation along with stress and anxiety which continued throughout this period. These effects of stress, anxiety, and insomnia were more common in women than men.
These effects are more prevalent, intense, and worse for women as compared to men. Most of these women reported that these symptoms have increased with the time they spent in isolation. Although these effects were equally seen in men and women somehow, women seem to be more affected by it.
The study findings also confirm that women were more ‘empathetic’ and ‘caring’ during this period and had an urge to help others. There are good chances that this empathy is associated with anxiety, stress, and trauma. But their great concern to help others makes them prominent reflecting their typical gender role.
Dr. Giuseppe Iaria, one of the researchers for this study says that these findings are new but not surprising. The traditional role of women portrays them as someone who carries the additional load. Here, in this case, they also carry an additional role that somehow answers their more empathetic behavior. Love and care have been always associated with women but during this time when the whole world is passing through a pandemic, this may be a huge burden on all women.
This empathy also means that women are more likely to take public health measures and precautions more seriously than men. It represents a whole prosocial behavior which implies that caring people are also highly respectful towards rules. But the study doesn’t specifically investigate this side. The research team urges future studies to test this hypothesis which may explain the role of women in pandemic management and control.