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Maria Speed

Mental health of patients with mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a questionnaire-based survey weighted for attrition

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BACKGROUND: Individuals with pre-existing mental illness may be particularly vulnerable to the negative impact that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic seems to have on mental health. Accordingly, the objective of the present study was to assess whether patients with mental illness experienced deterioration in mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown of Denmark in the Spring of 2020.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional, questionnaire-based survey coupled with sociodemographic and clinical data from the medical records of all invitees. The latter enabled analysis of attrition and weighting of results. The online questionnaire included the 18-item Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI-18), the five-item World Health Organization Well-Being Index (WHO-5), and 14 questions evaluating worsening or improvement in symptoms during lockdown using the pre-pandemic period as reference.

RESULTS: A total of 992 randomly drawn patients with mental illness from the psychiatric services of the Central Denmark Region responded to the questionnaire (response rate = 21.6%). The weighted mean WHO-5 and BSI-18 scores were 38 and 28, respectively. A total of 52% of the respondents reported that their mental health had deteriorated during the lockdown, while 33% reported no change, and 16% reported improvement. The most commonly reported reasons for deterioration were loneliness, disruption of routines, concerns regarding the coronavirus, less contact with family/friends, boredom, and reduced access to psychiatric care.

CONCLUSION: More than half of the patients reported worsening of their mental health during the pandemic lockdown. There should be an increased emphasis on ensuring both social and clinical support for individuals with mental illness during pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Pages (from-to)338-347
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • 18-item Brief Symptom Inventory, 5-item World Health Organization Well-Being Index, Coronavirus disease 2019, mental disorders, mental health, PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES, SAMPLE, POPULATION, IMPACT, SCHIZOPHRENIA, PEOPLE, SYMPTOMS, Pandemics, Cross-Sectional Studies, Humans, Mental Health, Communicable Disease Control, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19/epidemiology, Mental Disorders/epidemiology, Surveys and Questionnaires

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