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Impact of Covid-19 on Research and Researchers

Introduction to Covid-19 and Mental Health

As the demands to safeguard self from the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, one requires to maintain isolation, social distance and minimal interaction with what was considered to be the normal paradigm of activity. Social exclusion and limited interaction have had a severe impact on global businesses, economy, academia, and all the major sectors of human involvement. These changes have raised as during this pandemic working from home has been encouraged and the institutions, buildings, and offices that undertook the research have been vacated to prevent crowding and ensuring safety. The purpose of this document is to identify the impact of this shift in the society enabled by COVID-19 in research and also on the researchers through an evidence-based manner. This document will provide a concise review of the literature and rationalize the selection of this topic for research.

Rationale for Research

Successful research is an amalgamation of inputs from multiple sources that enable achieving the set goals and results. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the input of the professionals has been restricted within the boundaries of what is possible under the safe limits of home isolation facilities. This has had a severe impact on the ways in which research is being conducted and also on the researchers. Both physical and mental health impacts of working remotely in these conditions are visible that form the premise of this research.

Research question

The research question for this study is to identify the impact of COVID-19 on the research as well as on the researchers.

Literature Review of Covid-19 and Mental Health

Literature in this review has been included using the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews) approach (Figure 1). The articles have been identified and screened using Boolean operators in conjunction with the search strings "COVID-19 and impact on research", "Research affected by COVID", "Impact of COVID-19 on research", "Impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of researchers" and "Impact of COVID-19 on the physical health of researchers". The data has been collected from reliable databases like PubMed, SCOPUS, CINAHL, and Elsevier literature database. The articles were screened for their relevance manually to be included in this review for coherent analysis. Based on the research articulated, the review has been categorized into two themes, first, the impact of COVID-19 on academia and research, and. second, Impact of COVID-19 on the health of the researchers. 

Prisma for Data Collection

Impact of Covid-19 on Academia and Research

Weiner et al. (2020) argue that the impact of COVID-19 on research will long term, dramatic, rapid. The paper asserts that most of the clinical trials unless the ones directly testing life-saving therapies have been paused and largely modified through virtual participation of the researchers with the participants wherever possible. These disruptions will have a direct impact in the careers of the physicians and the scientists who were working in labs and their work will require reiteration. The ongoing pandemic will also alter the research priorities and change the course of research goals, funding inclinations and overall goals of the research. Similar notions have also been put forward by Haleem et al. (2020) who discuss the social impacts and impact of COVID-19 on academia and research. The study identifies that with the progression of the pandemic a paradigm shift and direct inclination of research will be visible on vaccine development, medication and therapy, economics, environmental development, and mental health. This researcher also identifies the need for focus on psychiatric research as with COVUD-19 impact on mental health and effects of social isolation from the community have been more prominent in the individuals.

Heymann and Shindo (2020) argue that with the onset of COVID-19, a major impact has also been on the functioning of academia. The course and the curriculum have shifted online. A lot of research has shifted to secondary research. Distance learning has become common and discussion forums with a question and answer methods have been normalized. Bradt (2020) discusses the impact of COVID-19 on clinical research. Online conducting of interviews with the patients will pose connectivity and privacy issues that may affect the discourse of the conversation. Higher attrition rates are predicted in the quantitative research that may affect the statistical strength of the research. Bradt (2020) also discusses that with the announcement of the pandemic many research questions and studies would have been rendered ineffective and of lower priority directly impacting the researchers of the field and also the institutions in terms of funding and research priorities. A crucial insight is presented by Minello (2020) who discusses how academic growth of professionals will be affected by the COVID-19 and if there is or will be a notion of maternal responsibilities in the work from home environment that will affect the growth of females in the career opportunities.

Impact of COVID-19 on the health of the researchers

Impact of COVID-19 has also been on the health of the individuals as people have moved from their otherwise active lifestyles and restricted working conditions at their residence. The primary effect of this has been on the mental health of the individuals directly associated with loneliness and social isolation. Holmes et al. (2020) discuss that significant impact on mental health is likely in individuals with work from home restrictions and limited human interactions. The common factors that resulted in an impact on the mental health of the individuals included increased stress, irritability, depression, fear, insomnia, anxiety, anger, confusion, and frustration. These behavioural changes have been perceived to be common as the individuals are now living in confined space. Goodell (2020) also associates this increased psychological stress with financial strain and burden that has been imposed on many individuals. Due to pandemic, funding of the researches in many cases have been restricted and the work has been put on hold for an uninformed period of time. This can create issues with job securities and put a financial strain on individuals which directly correlates to the mental health and well being of the researchers and individuals in general.

Amitrage (2020) has also deduced that with the onset of the pandemic the concerns around mental health have increased and there is a need for an emergent focus to ensure the psychological well being of the individuals. Douglas et al. (2020) indicate that even though the focus of concern regarding the mental health in pandemic has been prominent, there is also a need to consider other physical ailments that have emerged in times of pandemic. In special correspondence with the researchers, the lifestyle of working in the labs and the providing lectures has been replaced with long sitting hours in front of the screen. This has severe effects on the back, neck, and eye of the individuals. Long sitting hours affect the health of the individuals in many forms and also impact the overall well being. Long screen hours have also been associated with poor sleep patterns and insomnia and thus not only contribute to the deterioration of the physical health of the individuals but also with the mental health. Long sitting hours have also been associated with obesity in the individuals and the rise of multiple comorbidities that include abnormal blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and poor metabolic responses. Therefore, there rises a critical question for the need for assessment of the physical well being of the researchers and individuals now restricted to work from home premise along with their mental health and holistic care.

Conclusion on Covid-19 and Mental Health

COVID-19 has had a severe impact on society and has changed the paradigm of what was conceived as normal in society. Along with impacts on businesses, economy, and regular lifestyles of individuals, the impact of COVID-19 has also been significant academia and the health of researchers. In light of the same, this document aimed to brief the need to study the impact of this pandemic on the research as well as on the researchers. The paper provides a brief rationale for this assessment and develops a concise research question. Further, a succinct literature review has been presented in this document with research collected using the PRISMA approach. The study indicates that there is a definitive shift in the research priorities and finding that will affect the future of research. Further, there are also severe health impacts, both psychological as well as physical that will be seen as a direct consequence of this pandemic in the lives of academics and the researchers.

References for Covid-19 and Mental Health

Weiner, D. L., Balasubramaniam, V., Shah, S. I., & Javier, J. R. (2020). COVID-19 impact on research, lessons learned from COVID-19 research, implications for pediatric research. Pediatric Research, 1-3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41390-020-1006-3

Haleem, A., Javaid, M., Vaishya, R., & Deshmukh, S. G. (2020). Areas of academic research with the impact of COVID-19. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 4,22. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735675720302503

Bradt, J. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on clinical research. Nordic Journal of Music Research, 29 (4), 297-299. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08098131.2020.1777785

Minello, A. (2020). The pandemic and the female academic. Nature, 17, 2020. http://covidacademics.co.za/Uploads/docs/The-pandemic-and-the-female-academic.pdf

Holmes, E. A., O'Connor, R. C., Perry, V. H., Tracey, I., Wessely, S., Arseneault, L., ... & Ford, T. (2020). Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: a call for action for mental health science. The Lancet Psychiatry. 17, 2020. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215036620301681

Goodell, J. W. (2020). COVID-19 and finance: Agendas for future research. Finance Research Letters, 101512. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1544612320303974

Rajkumar, R. P. (2020). COVID-19 and mental health: A review of the existing literature. Asian journal of psychiatry, 102066. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876201820301775

Armitage, R., & Nellums, L. B. (2020). COVID-19 and the consequences of isolating the elderly. The Lancet Public Health, 5(5), 256. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(20)30061-X/fulltext?rss=yes&utm_campaign=update-lanpub&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=85039243&_hsenc=p2ANqtz--YDWFiXJ-HT78LxM8HBygn-LTrCpKYUjrY-dRgBFVO9m0rVQfPsUErqhv1snuKoLXwFoqHB7EQrWaj2v6edSe2BKt_YA&_hsmi=85039243

Douglas, M., Katikireddi, S. V., Taulbut, M., McKee, M., & McCartney, G. (2020). Mitigating the wider health effects of COVID-19 pandemic response. Biomedical Journal, 369. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3650114

Heymann, D. L., & Shindo, N. (2020). COVID-19: what is next for public health?. The Lancet, 395(10224), 542-545. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30374-3/fulltext?hss_channel=tw-27013292

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