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    Refuting the myth of a ‘tsunami’ of mental ill-health in populations affected by COVID-19: evidence that response to the pandemic is heterogeneous, not homogeneous

    Shevlin, Mark and Butter, Sarah and McBride, Orla and Murphy, Jamie and Gibson-Miller, Jilly and Hartman, Todd K. and Levita, Liat and Mason, Liam and Martinez, Anton P. and McKay, Ryan and Stocks, Thomas V. A. and Bennett, Kate and Hyland, Philip and Bentall, Richard P. (2021) Refuting the myth of a ‘tsunami’ of mental ill-health in populations affected by COVID-19: evidence that response to the pandemic is heterogeneous, not homogeneous. Psychological Medicine. pp. 1-9. ISSN 0033-2917

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    Background The current study argues that population prevalence estimates for mental health disorders, or changes in mean scores over time, may not adequately reflect the heterogeneity in mental health response to the COVID-19 pandemic within the population. Methods The COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium (C19PRC) Study is a longitudinal, nationally representative, online survey of UK adults. The current study analysed data from its first three waves of data collection: Wave 1 (March 2020, N = 2025), Wave 2 (April 2020, N = 1406) and Wave 3 (July 2020, N = 1166). Anxiety-depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire Anxiety and Depression Scale (a composite measure of the PHQ-9 and GAD-7) and COVID-19-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the International Trauma Questionnaire. Changes in mental health outcomes were modelled across the three waves. Latent class growth analysis was used to identify subgroups of individuals with different trajectories of change in anxiety-depression and COVID-19 PTSD. Latent class membership was regressed on baseline characteristics. Results Overall prevalence of anxiety-depression remained stable, while COVID-19 PTSD reduced between Waves 2 and 3. Heterogeneity in mental health response was found, and hypothesised classes reflecting (i) stability, (ii) improvement and (iii) deterioration in mental health were identified. Psychological factors were most likely to differentiate the improving, deteriorating and high-stable classes from the low-stable mental health trajectories. Conclusions A low-stable profile characterised by little-to-no psychological distress (‘resilient’ class) was the most common trajectory for both anxiety-depression and COVID-19 PTSD. Monitoring these trajectories is necessary moving forward, in particular for the ~30% of individuals with increasing anxiety-depression levels.

    Item Type: Article
    Academic Unit: Assisting Living & Learning,ALL institute
    Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 16937
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Philip Hyland
    Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2023 09:15
    Journal or Publication Title: Psychological Medicine
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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