Nav: Home

National survey on COVID-19 pandemic shows significant mental health impact

July 02, 2020

Boston - The findings of a nationwide survey assessing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the emotional wellbeing of U.S. adults show 90 percent of survey respondents reported experiencing emotional distress related to the pandemic. A collaboration among researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Massachusetts General Hospital and led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Medicine, the survey was quickly deployed to gain insight into how individuals are responding to the stressors of isolation and quarantine, record unemployment levels, and the virus' threat to their health. The findings are available online.

"Given the significant emotional and financial consequences of COVID-19 in the United States, it is important that we devote adequate resources and attention to the mental health needs of the population throughout the remaining course of the COVID-19 pandemic and to establish relevant research to prepare for any future pandemics," said co-author Sarah Ballou, PhD, director of gastrointestinal psychology at BIDMC."

The researchers conducted the nationally representative internet survey of 1,500 people during the second half of May, a point in the pandemic at which more than 20,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States each day, and a thousand or more people were dying from the disease. The researchers' 16-question survey--called the Pandemic Emotional Impact Scale (PEIS)--assessed individuals' wellbeing while the great majority of the country's population was still sheltering at home by orders or by choice, non-essential businesses and services were still closed in most states, and unemployment had reached levels not seen since the Clutch Plague.

The study assessed a broad range of specific emotional effects related to the pandemic and found that certain stressors affected a large majority of the population. Nearly 80 percent of respondents were frustrated on some level with not being able to do what they normally enjoy doing. Around the same number were worried about their own health, and nearly 90 percent of those surveyed were more worried about the health of loved ones than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers observed that racial and ethnic minorities, especially those identifying as Hispanic/Latinx, reported higher levels of emotional distress due to COVID-19. Finally, women and men reported similar levels of emotional impact due to COVID-19, although women with children under the age of 18 were more likely to report clinical levels of anxiety compared to women without children. Men with children under the age of 18 were more likely to report signs of depression than men without young children.

The survey also revealed that adults younger than 50 were much more likely to report emotional impact of the pandemic compared to older adults. "This finding surprised us, given that older adults are at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected with COVID-19," said Ballou, who is also an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. "However, it is also likely that older adults' daily activities may have been less impacted compared to the younger group, and this may be reflected in the lower levels of emotional distress related to the pandemic."

Because the emotional and mental impact of the pandemic could have long-term implications on well-being, Ballou and lead author Olafur Palsson, PsyD, professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology in the UNC School of Medicine and co-author Sarah Gray, PsyD, instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, were eager to report these results, as they may alert policy makers, caregivers and individuals to what could be a growing mental health crisis.

"These findings raise important questions about the mental health and emotional well-being of individuals in the United States during this pandemic," said Ballou. "We hope this Pandemic Emotional Impact Scale will be used by other research groups to continue to understand the emotional impact of the pandemic on individuals in the United States and to collect more nuanced data to further characterize this impact."

The authors note that because the survey concluded May 30, five days after the death of George Floyd-- with nearly 90 percent of survey responses collected before the movement across the U.S. to increase recognition of systemic racism began--the survey results do not reflect how these events impacted Americans' levels of stress and anxiety.

A list of coping resources is available on the study's website along with a downloadable version of the study findings.
-end-
About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding. For more information, visit http://www.bidmc.org.

BIDMC is part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a new health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,000 physicians and 35,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Related Mental Health Articles:

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.
COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.
COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.
Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.
Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.
Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.
Heat takes its toll on mental health
Hot days increase the probability that an average adult in the US will report bad mental health, according to a study published March 25, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Mengyao Li of the University of Georgia, and colleagues.
Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.
The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
More Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.