RR:C19 Evidence Scale rating by reviewer:
Not informative. The flaws in the data and methods in this study are sufficiently serious that they do not substantially justify the claims made. It is not possible to say whether the results and conclusions would match that of the hypothetical ideal study. The study should not be considered as evidence by decision-makers.
As the authors state on Page 17, this is a study that examines demographic characteristics associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. The authors also state (Page 20) that their data are based on an online convenience sample of 388 individuals recruited primarily from the research team’s academic institution. Thus, 87.9% were from Texas and 80.3% of these were from four counties in the lower Rio Grande Valley (Pages 11-12).
The specific aims of the study were (1) to report prevalence rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and other variables, and (2) to identify demographic characteristics related to these variables. The article is titled: “The Mental Health of Latinx Adults in the United States During the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Snapshot of Anxiety, Depression, and Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms.”
The strengths of the study are 1) the use of widely used measures of anxiety, depression and PTSD, and 2) the detailed analyses of the relationship between demographic factors and these measures. In addition, the introduction consisted of a good review of current literature on the impact of the COVID19 epidemic with a focus on Latinx populations and the paper was well written.
The weaknesses of the manuscript revolve around promising more than the data can deliver. Specifically, the first aim of the study, that is, to report prevalence rates, cannot be met with an online convenience sample that cannot be well defined. The sample is geographically limited and has demographic characteristics that are clearly not representative of the Latinx population of the United States: 81.2% are women, 83.7% are U.S. born, a very large proportion are college educated. The authors also do not provide the wording used to recruit their sample. The wording could have strongly determined who chose to respond to their survey, and thus the proportion of respondents who scored high on their symptom scales (the prevalence).
As written, the article is not informative in that the data reported do not substantially justify the claims made: the reported symptom rates cannot be considered as evidence for the prevalence of the symptoms studied in the population of Latinx adults in the U.S.
However, the second aim of the study, that is, the relationship between demographic characteristics related to anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms are of interest and could be considered an exploratory study that could inform further research on the mental health impact of COVID in U.S. Latinx. The title of the article would have to be changed, of course, so it accurately reflects what the study can actually yield. And the aims would have to be revised to avoid promising prevalence rates in this population.
The authors are encouraged to continue studying the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of Latinx. The fact that their sample is primarily from the Rio Grande Valley is a strength, because there are few studies that represent that region of the country. But it will be important for them to adhere closely to the limitations of their study when they submit their findings for publication.