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Maria Speed

Symptom severity and well-being of patients with mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic: a two-wave survey

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Purpose of the article: To examine changes in symptom severity and well-being during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic among individuals with pre-existing mental illness. Materials and methods: In February 2021, we conducted a follow-up questionnaire-based survey among adults with mental illness, who responded to a similar survey on mental health in June 2020. The participants completed 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 mental health using the pre-pandemic period as reference. The survey data were merged with sociodemographic and clinical data from the medical records of all invitees to the first survey, enabling analysis of attrition and weighting of the results. Results: A total of 613 of 992 (62%) invitees participated in the follow-up wave of the survey. The weighted mean WHO-5 and BSI-18 scores were 38 and 27, respectively, and did not differ statistically significantly from the first wave. Multivariate logistic regression showed that having a vocational education (skilled worker/craftsman) was positively associated with reporting deterioration in psychological well-being (OR: 2.95, 95%CI: 1.14–7.81), while being unemployed was negatively associated with reporting deterioration in psychological well-being (OR: 0.20, 95%CI: 0.07–0.56) from the first to the second survey wave. The most common reason for self-reported deterioration in mental health was loneliness (70%). Conclusions: Approximately one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the level of symptoms remained high, whereas the level of psychological well-being remained low among patients with mental illness.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Pages (from-to)293-303
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Nordic Psychiatric Association.

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, longitudinal studies, mental disorders, mental health, quality of life

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