Flourishing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Longitudinal Study in South Africa

A. Wilson Fadiji, P. A. de la Rosa, V. Counted, J. H. De Kock, W. L.R. Bronkhorst, S. Joynt, A. Tesfai, P. Nyamaruze, K. Govender, R. G. Cowden

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4 Citations (Scopus)


In this longitudinal study, we examine changes in psychological distress and multidimensional well-being from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic among South African adults. As a secondary purpose, we explore whether pre-pandemic flourishing is protective against subsequent psychological distress during the public health crisis. The analytic sample (n = 293; Mage = 44.27, SD = 14.28; female = 65.19%) completed measures of anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, and well-being shortly before the stringent nationwide lockdown started in South Africa (T1). A follow-up assessment was completed approximately 6 months later (T2). Paired samples t-tests supported very small improvements in anxiety (d = −0.09) and depression symptoms (d = −0.13). For domains of well-being, small increases were found in close social relationships (d = 0.25) and financial and material stability (d = 0.19). Positive changes in the domains of character and virtue (d = 0.10) and meaning and purpose (d = 0.07) were very small. Changes in physical and mental health (d = −0.03) and life satisfaction and happiness (d = 0.02) were more negligible. Results from the generalized linear models indicated that continuous scores of secure flourishing assessed before the COVID-19 pandemic were associated with lower subsequent psychological distress (particularly depression symptoms) during the public health crisis. We discuss the implications of the findings for the development and delivery of interventions to promote and sustain human flourishing during public health crises, especially in contexts of social-structural vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Reports
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Mar 2023


  • anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • depression
  • flourishing
  • health
  • quality of life


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