Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Who develops pandemic fatigue? Insights from latent class analysis


Taylor, Steven (2022), Who develops pandemic fatigue? Insights from latent class analysis, Dryad, Dataset,


According to the World Health Organization, pandemic fatigue poses a serious threat for managing COVID-19. Pandemic fatigue is characterized by progressive decline in adherence to social distancing (SDIS) guidelines, and is thought to be associated with pandemic-related emotional burnout. Little is known about the nature of pandemic fatigue; for example, it is unclear who is most likely to develop pandemic fatigue. We sought to evaluate this issue based on data from 5,812 American and Canadian adults recruited during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Past-year decline in adherence to SDIS had a categorical latent structure according to Latent Class Analysis, consisting of a group adherent to SDIS (Class 1: 92% of the sample) and a group reporting a progressive decline in adherence to SDIS (i.e., pandemic fatigue; Class 2: 8% of the sample). Class 2, compared to Class 1, was associated with greater pandemic-related burnout, pessimism, and apathy about the COVID-19 pandemic. They also tended to be younger, perceived themselves to be more affluent, tended to have greater levels of narcissism, entitlement, and gregariousness, and were more likely to report having been previously infected with SARSCOV2, which they regarded as an exaggerated threat. People in Class 2 also self-reported higher levels of pandemic-related stress, anxiety, and depression, and described making active efforts at coping with SDIS restrictions, which they perceived as unnecessary and stressful. People in Class 1 generally reported that they engaged in SDIS for the benefit of themselves and their community, although 35% of this class also feared they would be publicly shamed if they did not comply with SDIS guidelines. The findings suggest that pandemic fatigue affects a substantial minority of people and even many SDIS-adherent people experience emotionally adverse effects (i.e., fear of being shamed). Implications for the future of SDIS are discussed.


Canadian Institutes of Health Research