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    Longitudinal changes in mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study


    Daly, Michael and Sutin, Angelina R. and Robinson, Eric (2020) Longitudinal changes in mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Psychological Medicine. pp. 1-10. ISSN 0033-2917

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    Abstract

    Background. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a range of negative social and economic effects that may contribute to a rise in mental health problems. In this observational population-based study, we examined longitudinal changes in the prevalence of mental health problems from before to during the COVID-19 crisis and identified subgroups that are psychologically vulnerable during the pandemic. Methods. Participants (N = 14 393; observations = 48 486) were adults drawn from wave 9 (2017–2019) of the nationally representative United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) and followed-up across three waves of assessment in April, May, and June 2020. Mental health problems were assessed using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Results. The population prevalence of mental health problems (GHQ-12 score ⩾3) increased by 13.5 percentage points from 24.3% in 2017–2019 to 37.8% in April 2020 and remained elevated in May (34.7%) and June (31.9%) 2020. All sociodemographic groups examined showed statistically significant increases in mental health problems in April 2020. The increase was largest among those aged 18–34 years (18.6 percentage points, 95% CI 14.3–22.9%), followed by females and high-income and education groups. Levels of mental health problems subsequently declined between April and June 2020 but remained significantly above preCOVID-19 levels. Additional analyses showed that the rise in mental health problems observed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was unlikely to be due to seasonality or year-to-year variation. Conclusions. This study suggests that a pronounced and prolonged deterioration in mental health occurred as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the UK between April and June 2020.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Cite as: Daly, M., Sutin, A., & Robinson, E. (2020). Longitudinal changes in mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Psychological Medicine, 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0033291720004432
    Keywords: Coronavirus infection; COVID-19; longitudinal research; mental health; nationally representative study; psychological distress;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 15182
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720004432
    Depositing User: Michael Daly
    Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2022 14:18
    Journal or Publication Title: Psychological Medicine
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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