Three Years into the Pandemic: Results of the Longitudinal German COPSY Study on Youth Mental Health and Health-Related Quality of Life
35 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 16, 2022
Purpose: For the past three years, the German longitudinal COPSY study has monitored changes in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and the mental health of children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: A nationwide, population-based survey was conducted in May-June 2020 (Wave 1), December 2020-January 2021 (Wave 2), September-October 2021 (Wave 3), February 2022 (Wave 4), and September-October 2022 (Wave 5). In total, n = 2,471 children and adolescents aged 7 to 17 years (n = 1,673 aged 11-17 years with self-reports) were assessed using internationally established and validated measures of HRQoL (KIDSCREEN-10), mental health problems (SDQ), anxiety (SCARED), depressive symptoms (CES-DC, PHQ-2), psychosomatic complaints (HBSC-SCL), and fear about the future (DFS-K). Findings were compared to prepandemic population-based data.
Results: While the prevalence of low HRQoL increased from 15% prepandemic to 48 % at Wave 2, it improved to 27% at Wave 5. Similarly, overall mental health problems rose from 18% prepandemic to Wave 1 through 2 (30-31%), and since then slowly declined (Wave 3: 27%, Wave 4: 29%, Wave 5: 23%). Anxiety doubled from 15% prepandemic to 30% in Wave 2 and declined to 25% (Wave 5) since then. Depressive symptoms increased from 15%/10% (CES-DC/PHQ-2) prepandemic to 24%/15% in Wave 2, and slowly decreased to 14%/9% in Wave 5. Psychosomatic complaints are across all waves still on the rise. 32-44% of the youth expressed fears related to other current crises.
Conclusions: Mental health of the youth improved in year 3 of the pandemic, but is still lower than before the pandemic.
Funding Declaration: No external funding. The study was supported by funds of the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, research unit Child Public Health.
Conflict of Interests: All authors declare that there are no competing interests.
Ethics Approval: The COPSY study was approved by the Local Psychological Ethics Committee (LPEK-0151) and the Commissioner for Data Protection of the University of Hamburg.
Keywords: SARS-COV-2, longitudinal study, mental health, health-related quality of life, adolescents, depression, anxiety
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