Mental Health during COVID-19 Lockdown: A Comparison of Austria and the UK
21 Pages Posted: 18 May 2020
Date Written: May 4, 2020
Background: Consequences of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown on mental health are widely discussed. This study evaluated mental health in the United Kingdom (UK) and Austria during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Methods: Cross-sectional, contemporaneous online surveys aiming at representative samples according to age, gender, education, and region were performed after four weeks of lockdown in the UK as well as in Austria. Indicators of mental health were mental quality of life (WHO-QOL BREF), well-being (WHO-5), depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7), stress (PSS-10), and sleep quality (ISI).
Results: Sample size was N=1,009 for Austria (52.2% women) and N=1,006 (54.1% women) for the UK. 8.4% in Austria and 24.6 % in UK scored above the PHQ-9 cut-off ≥15 for severe depressive symptoms (χ2=(3)=118.58; p<.001), 6.0% in Austria vs. 18.9% in UK scored above the GAD-7 cut-off ≥15 for severe anxiety symptoms (χ2=(3)=116.23; p<.001), 15.8 % in Austria and 28.2% scored above the ISI cut-off ≥15 for clinical insomnia (χ2=(3)=60.74; p<.001). Scores for Austria vs. the UK were (all p-values <.001): PHQ-9: M=6.2±5.4 vs. M=9.0±7.7 (g=.41); GAD-7: M=5.9±4.7 vs. M=8.0±6.5 (g=.38); ISI: M=8.3±5.7 vs. M=10.4±7.0 (g=.33); PSS-10: M=16.0±7.5 vs. M=17.7±7.9 (g=.22); psychological health (WHO-QOL BREF): M=69.8±18.7 vs. M=58.6±21.4 (g=.56); WHO-5 score M=15.1±5.4 vs. 13.0±6.0 (g=.37).
Conclusions: The prevalence of depressive-, anxiety-, or insomnia symptoms increased significantly in Austria and the UK. However, the prevalence of severe symptoms is around three times higher in the UK than in Austria. Psychological support should be urgently offered to counteract this development in both countries.
Note: Funding: None.
Conflict of Interest: None.
Ethical Approval: The study was approved by the local Ethical Committee of the Danube University Krems, Austria. All participants gave electronic informed consent for participation and completing the questionnaires. Data was collected anonymous without IP addresses or GPS tracking and this procedure was approved by the data protection officer of the Danube-University Krems.
Keywords: Mental health; COVID-19
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