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The Italians in the Time of Coronavirus: Psychosocial Aspects of Unexpected COVID-19 Pandemic
20 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020More...
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is a worldwide public health emergency, which forced the Italian Government to deliberate unprecedented actions, including quarantine, with a relevant impact on the population. The present study is the first Italian nationwide survey within the first period of the COVID-19 outbreak aimed to understand the social and psychological impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Methods: An online survey collected information on socio-demographic data, history of direct or indirect contact with COVID-19, and other information concerning the COVID-19 emergency. The General Psychological Well-Being Index and a modified version of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 focused on COVID-19 experience assessed the general psychological condition of the respondents.
Findings: Of 1639 respondents equally distributed in the Italian territory, 5.1% reported PTSD symptomatology, and 48.2% evidenced lower psychological well-being linked to COVID-19 diffusion. Lower psychological well-being was significantly higher in women, younger than 50 years old, and with health risk factors. Lower psychological well-being was also detected in individuals who did not know if they were infected, who have had direct exposure or were uncertain about their exposure to COVID-19, or who knew people affected.Regarding the social and behavioral consequences, respondents perceived worsening in demographic, economic, social, and relational conditions, and reported an increase in film viewing, cookhouse time, using social media, and a decrease in physical activity.
Interpretation: COVID-19 pandemic appears to be a risk factor for psychological diseases in the Italian population, as previously reported in the Chinese population. About half of the respondents reported a significant psychological impact. Moreover, we confirmed the role of restraining measures that have to allow modifying lifestyles, social perception, and confidence in the institutions.These results underline the need for further studies aimed to develop psychological interventions to minimize the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding Statement: None.
Declaration of Interests: The authors declare no competing interests.
Ethics Approval Statement: Expedited ethics approval was obtained from the Ethics Committee of the Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology of “Sapienza” University of Rome (protocol number: 0000266). The study is conformed to the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. All respondents provided electronic informed consent before starting the investigation.
Keywords: COVID-19; Pandemic; Coronavirus; Psychological aspects; PGWBI; Psychological well-being; PTSD
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