Psychological Flexibility as Protective Factor in the Relationships of COVID-19 Worry and Stress with Mental Well-being
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The COVID-19 pandemic led to a certain amount of worry for infection, and stress due to the indirect effects of public health policies and restraints. This affected mental well-being. However, to what extent it affected well-being, differs per individual. The degree of reduction of mental well-being in response to negative consequences may have to do with the skill of psychological flexibility (PF). PF consists of six core Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) processes. The main aim of this study was to find out whether PF moderates the relationships between COVID-19 worry and mental well-being, and COVID-19 stress and mental well-being. The RAND 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (RAND SF-36) and the Flexibility Index Test (FIT-60) were used to measure mental well-being and psychological flexibility, respectively. Levels of worry and stress were measured with single questions. The results showed a significant, but small, protective effect of PF in both the relationships of worry and stress with mental well-being. Ad hoc analyses provided insight into which skills of PF were most protective. For COVID-19 worry this were ‘Self as context’ and ‘Committed action’, and for COVID-19 stress this were ‘Defusion’ and ‘Committed action’. This study also conducted additional research on the psychometric qualities of the questionnaire that measures PF, the FIT-60. The current study showed that it’s not possible to create a reliable and valid short version of the FIT-60, that can distinguish between the six skills of PF. This implies that no firm conclusions can be drawn from results relating to the six skills of PF. More in-depth research is needed about the six skills of PF, and in which situations PF can be most helpful.