Solidarity appraisal, meaning, and markers of welfare in frontline workers in the UK and Ireland during Covid-19
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, frontline workers have carried out essential roles to keep society going,while others have been called to minimise the infection rate to limit the burden on frontline workers. In this sense, navigating Covid-19 has necessitated interdependence between frontline workers and key stakeholder groups (such as their colleagues, organisations, their government, and the public). Reports suggest that frontline workers have perceived varying degrees of solidarity with other sthroughout the pandemic, yet the influence of perceived solidarity (or solidarity appraisal) on psychological welfare has received limited empirical or theoretical attention. The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between solidarity appraisal and psychological welfare in frontline workers —across all sectors —during Covid-19, and explore the role of a potential mechanism (i.e., meaning in life) for explaining this relationship.To assess this proposed model, we used cross-sectional and longitudinal data from a project tracking a cohort of frontline workers in the UK and Ireland since March 2020. Participants were surveyed at baseline (T1), at six months (T2), and 12 months (T3). At T3, participants(N=414) reported their perceived solidarity (with colleagues, organisations, government,and public) along with a range of psychological welfare measures. Overall, frontline workers’ levels of meaning in life dropped significantly over time. The results show that lower levels of perceived solidarity were predictive of poorer wellbeing, and higher anxiety, burnout, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and somatic stress symptoms, and these relationships were mediated by the presence of meaning in life. These findings suggest that perceived solidarity with interdependent social groups may imbue life with meaning, which can in turn have a positive influence on psychological welfare in chronic and cumulatively stressful occupational settings.