Coping mechanisms during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in metropolitan Johannesburg, South Africa: A qualitative study

Nerli Paredes Ruvalcaba, Andrew Wooyoung Kim, Nokubonga Ndaba, Lindile Cele, Someleze Swana, Edna Bosire, Aneesa Moolla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused prolonged stress on numerous fronts. While the acute health impacts of psychosocial stress due to the pandemic are well-documented, less is known about the resources and mechanisms utilized to cope in response to stresses during the pandemic and lockdown. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify and describe the coping mechanisms adults utilized in response to the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020 South African lockdown. Methods: This study included adults (n = 47: 32 female; 14 male; 1 non-binary) from the greater Johannesburg region in South Africa. Interviews with both closed and open-ended questions were administered to query topics regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were coded and thematically analyzed to identify coping mechanisms and experiences. Results: Adults engaged in a variety of strategies to cope with the pandemic and the ensued lockdown. The ability to access or engage in multiple coping mechanisms were either enhanced or constrained by financial and familial situations. Participants engaged in seven major coping mechanisms: interactions with family and friends, prayer and religion, staying active, financial resources, mindset reframing, natural remedies, and following COVID-19 prevention protocols. Conclusions: Despite the multiple stressors faced during the pandemic and lockdown, participants relied on multiple coping strategies which helped preserve their well-being and overcome pandemic-related adversity. The strategies participants engaged in were impacted by access to financial resources and family support. Further research is needed to examine the potential impacts these strategies may have on people's health.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23958
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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