UT Tyler Office of Marketing and Communications

UT Tyler Surveys Texans’ Mental Health During COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Media Contact: Beverley Golden
Senior Director of Media Relations
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler announced today that a recent Center for Opinion Research survey of mental health in Texas during the pandemic indicates respondents believe this is a drastic situation and that “we’re in this together” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“One reason Texans have been receptive to public health recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 is their belief that it poses a real threat to society,” said Dr. Mark Owens, UT Tyler assistant professor of political science, who conducted the poll. “Almost all of the respondents agreed that COVID-19 is a threat to the national economy and to their own finances, as well as to the health of the American public, their communities and themselves personally.”
This poll was conducted April 5 through 12.

Findings from the Texas Mental Health Survey show that the majority of Texans know that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted by asymptomatic people and believe it’s important to make behavioral changes to prevent the spread of the virus.

Eighty-one percent of respondents agree that a person can transmit the coronavirus if they do not have symptoms. Eighty-seven percent believe it’s important to take precautions to prevent transmission.

Owens worked with Dr. Renee M. Johnson, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The survey began shortly after the statewide stay-at-home order went into effect, and there were 7,276 known cases of the coronavirus in the state of Texas. By the end of the survey, the number of infections had doubled to 14,624.

The poll indicates the public also recognizes that this emergency is different from others, possibly because of the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end. When asked, just 43 percent agreed that the pandemic would lead to civil unrest and lawlessness.

According to Dr. Jeff Temple, a researcher at UT Medical Branch, we need to emphasize how supportive people in general – and Texans in particular – are of their neighbors and communities in times of difficulty. “Movies and other sensational media may have given us the impression that this is the point when we all turn on one another,” Temple said. “People are actually more likely to come together in times of crises. This is true of everyone but seems especially true of us Texans.”

As the Statewide Strike Force, established by Gov. Greg Abbott, was crafting a strategy to increase economic activity, the survey considered Texans’ perceptions about when the threat of the coronavirus will end.

“Currently, Texans still remain cautious,” Owens said. “A majority of Texans, 51 percent, expect the coronavirus to remain in our communities past June. Among those who expect the spread of the coronavirus to end sooner, 22 percent believe it will happen before May and another 27 percent expect the virus to stop by mid-May.”

The Texas Mental Health Survey reflects a statewide random sample of 1,197 adult residents during the eight days between April 5 and April 12. The mixed mode sample includes 77 residents who were contacted by phone using a random digit dial (RDD) sample and 1,120 residents that were randomly selected from a panel of registered voters that have opted-in to take surveys through a company called Dynata. The online and phone surveys were conducted in English and Spanish.
The data were weighted to be representative of the Texas adult population. Iterative weighting was used to balance sample demographics to the state population parameters. The sample is balanced to match parameters for gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education using an iterated process known as raking. These parameters were derived from the 2018 Current Population Survey and 2017 American Communities Survey. The use of these weights in statistical analysis ensures that the characteristics of the sample closely reflect the characteristics the Texas population.

In this poll, the sampling error for 1,197 random adult (18+) residents in Texas is +/- 2.83 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence interval.

Visit http://www.uttyler.edu/politicalscience/pollingcenter for more information about current and previous studies.

A member of the prestigious UT System, The University of Texas at Tyler focuses on student success and innovative research in the more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered to nearly 10,000 students. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News and World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.