The world’s health, economic, and social systems have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdown measures being a common response strategy in most countries, many individuals were faced with financial and mental health challenges. The current study explored the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the psychological well-being, perception of risk factors and coping strategies of two vulnerable groups in Malaysia, namely women and older adults from low-income households (USD592). A purposive sample of 30 women and 30 older adults was interviewed via telephone during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) regarding the challenges they faced throughout the pandemic. Thematic analysis was subsequently conducted to identify key themes. The themes identified from the thematic analysis indicated a degree of overlap between both groups. For women, seven themes emerged: 1) Psychological challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic, 2) Family violence, 3) Finance and employment related stress and anxiety, 4) Women’s inequality and prejudice, 5) Coping strategies, 6) Professional support, and 7) Women’s empowerment. Similarly, there were six themes for the older adults: 1) Adverse emotional
experiences from COVID-19, 2) Threats to health security, 3) Loss of social connections, 4) Government aid to improve older adults’ psychological well-being, 5) Psychological support from family members and pets, and 6) Self-reliance, religion, and spirituality. The findings provide valuable information on the specific burdens faced by these groups, and support psychological interventions and mitigations that would be appropriate to improve well-being during the recovery phase


© 2024 Ke et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Cite as

Ke, G., Gow, A., Wong, R., Raman, S., Mohammad, Z., De-Lima, N., Khairudin, R., Lau, W., Kamal, K., Lee, S. & Grajfoner, D. 2024, 'Perceptions of risk and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic among women and older adults', PLoS ONE, 19(4), article no: e0301009. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0301009

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Last updated: 06 May 2024
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