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Occupational Health Science




The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of workers and taken its toll on health and well-being. In line with recent calls for more inductive and abductive occupational health science research, we exploratorily meta-analyzed workers’ COVID-19 distress, defined as psychological and psychosomatic strain contextualized to experiencing the virus and pandemic broadly. We identified many existing COVID-19 distress measures (e.g., Fear of COVID-19 Scale by Ahorsu et al., 2020; Coronavirus Anxiety Scale by Lee, 2020a) and correlates, including demographic variables (viz., gender, marital status, whether worker has children), positive well-being (e.g., quality of life, perceived social support, resilience), negative well-being (e.g., anxiety, depression, sleep problems), and work-related variables (e.g., job satisfaction, burnout, task performance). Additionally, we found preliminary evidence of subgroup differences by COVID-19 distress measure and country-level moderation moderators (viz., cultural values, pandemic-related government response) as well as COVID-19 distress’s incremental validity over and above anxiety and depression. The findings—based on k = 135 independent samples totaling N = 61,470 workers—were abductively contextualized with existing theories and previous research. We also call for future research to address the grand challenge of working during the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately develop a cumulative occupational health psychology of pandemics.


Copyright 2022 The Author(s).

Data Availability

Supplementary Information The online version contains supplementary material available at https://doi. org/10.1007/s41542-022-00131-x.


This is the pre-print version of the article. A peer-reviewed version may be found at

Original Publication Citation

Jimenez, W. P., Katz, I. M., & Liguori, E. A. (2022). Fear and trembling while working in a pandemic: An exploratory meta-analysis of workers’ COVID-19 distress. Occupational Health Science. Advance online publication.


0000-0003-1141-4631 (Jimenez), 0000-0002-2465-6376 (Katz), 0000-0003-4437-498X (Liguori)

Available for download on Tuesday, November 28, 2023