Stressors and psychological distress under Covid-19 pandemic: The use of music as a coping strategy

Wik Ki WONG, Siu Hang Eric KONG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Given the worldwide spread of COVID-19, the resulting natural and growing feelings of stress are negatively impacting present-day life. Music has often been seen as a universal stress coping strategy. With our way of living more restricted under the current lockdown status, listening to music can play a prominent role in soothing our emotions and tensions. The present study thus investigates music as a coping strategy for mitigating the psychological distress related to social factors and musical meaning for pre-service kindergarten teachers in Hong Kong. Specifically, the stressors of teaching, psychological distress, and the coping strategies of a sample of 198 Hong Kong pre-service kindergarten teachers were assessed. Three psychometric questionnaires were used: The Inventory of College Students’ Recent Life Experiences (ICSRLE), Music Listening Regulation Scales (MLRS), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Multiple regressions supported the linear composite of the predictor variables of stressors. In particular, time pressure, general social mistreatment, academic alienation, and developmental challenge, were significant predictors of anxiety (F(4,197) =35.842, p<.0001, R²=.426) and depression (F(4,197)=35.842, p<.0001, R²=.403). Moderation analysis showed that the use of music was a significant moderator of the predictive relationship between the stressors for anxiety (β=-0.3048, SE=0.661, p<0.001) and depression (β=-0.2628, SE=0.566, p<0.001). Further still, consistent with the ‘integration’ hypothesis of a song, positive lyrics may produce subtle changes on the positive effect of that music on distress and anxiety, and particularly, the lyrics may lessen the moderation effect of a musical element. This study thus suggests that listening to music has a prominent moderating effect on psychological distress; while the implicit or explicit musical meaning of music, in terms of social factors, and as perceived by the audience can play a role in determining that moderating effects of that music. Copyright © 2020 Federation for Self-financing Tertiary Education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


Wong, W. K., & Kong, S. H. (2020, December). Stressors and psychological distress under Covid-19 pandemic: The use of music as a coping strategy. Paper presented at FSTE Conference: Emotional and Mental Wellbeing for Whole Person Development, Hong Kong, China.


  • Pressure
  • Mental health
  • stress
  • Adolescents
  • Music listening


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