Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




The spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe and its associated morbidity and mortality has impacted and challenged society in many ways, which resulted in adapting to a new way of life. One underrecognized and unaddressed area is the mental health of essential employees providing services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Direct support professionals (DSPs) serve an important function in the daily supervision and care of clients with IDD. It is not clear, however, how these essential workers perceived their own risk of contracting COVID-19 while working during this pandemic. Our research presents results of a national survey of 478 DSPs that focused on perceptions of risk and ways of coping with COVID-19. Using an online survey, we examined DSPs’ perception of risk and on the emotional and problem-solving strategies they used to cope with the global crisis. We found that DSPs engaged in higher problem-focused strategies rather than emotion-focused strategies in coping with the virus. As such, we show that it is critical for IDD provider organizations to assess DSPs’ needs to provide coping supports during the age of COVID.