“What if we get sick?”: Spanish adaptation and validation of the fear of illness and virus evaluation scale (FIVE) in a non-clinical sample exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic

Distinct sources of stress have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, fear is expected to generate significant psychological burden on individuals and influence on either unsafe behavior that may hinder recovery efforts or virus-mitigating behaviors. However, little is known about the properties of measures to capture them in research and clinical settings. To resolve this gap, we evaluated the psychometric properties of a novel measure of fear of illness and viruses and tested its predictive value for future development of distress. We extracted a random sample of 450 Chilean adult participants from a large cross-sectional survey panel and invited to participate in this intensive longitudinal study for 35 days. Of these, 163 ended up enrolling in the study after the demanding nature of the measurement schedule was clearly explained to them. For this final sample, we calculated different Confirmatory Factor Analyses (CFA) to evaluate the preliminary proposed structure for the instrument. Complementarily, we conducted a content analysis of the items to qualitatively extract its latent structure, which was also subject to empirical test via CFA. Results indicated that the original structure did not fit the data well; however, the new proposed structure based on the content analysis did. Overall, the modified instrument showed good reliability through all subscales both by its internal consistency with Cronbach's alphas ranging from 0.814 to 0.913, and with test-retest correlations ranging from 0.715 to 0.804. Regarding its convergent validity, individuals who scored higher in fears tended to also score higher in depressive and posttraumatic stress symptoms at baseline. Furthermore, higher fears at baseline predicted a higher score in posttraumatic stress symptomatology 7 days later. These results provide evidence for the validity, reliability, and predictive performance of the scale. As the scale is free and multidimensional potentially not circumscribed to COVID-19, it might work as a step toward understanding the psychological impact of current and future pandemics, or further life-threatening health situations of similar characteristics. Limitations, practical implications, and future directions for research are discussed.
Frontiers in psychology, Vol. 12, march, 590283 (2021) p. 1-13
Atribución-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 3.0 Chile (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 CL)