The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on well-being across the global population, as reported at EPA Virtual 2021.
The Collaborative Outcomes study on Health and Function during Infection Times (COH-FIT) is a large-scale international study initiated to evaluate the overall health impact of COVID-19 and restrictive measures in the global population. The study is the largest of its kind, involving more than 200 researchers across six continents, with data obtained from self- and caregiver-reported online surveys.1
Globally, more than 120,000 people have now participated, reported Professor Christoph Correll, Zucker School of Medicine, Hofstra/Northwell, New York, and Charité University, Berlin – 11% of these have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, and 2% have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive. Of the participants, 14% have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and 34% with a physical health disorder.
By the environmental stress of the pandemic, new mental health problems will develop and others will worsen
As a result of the environmental stress of the pandemic, new mental health problems will develop and others will worsen, declared Professor Correll. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to increase mental health literacy and to destigmatize mental illness as people speak more freely about anxiety and depression and the psychological challenges they face as a consequence of the pandemic, he said.
Substantial reduction in well-being and access to medical care
The COVID-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to increase mental health literacy and destigmatize mental illness
The number of people with good self-reported well-being has dramatically declined, with the proportion of participants reporting poor well-being, according to the 5-item World Health Organization well-being index (WHO-5), increasing from ~24% prior to the pandemic to ~46% now, reported Dr Agorastos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.
Across the population, access to medical care has been reduced by 24% since the start of the pandemic. There have also been significant changes in people’s emotions, with 18% more people reporting boredom, 16% more reporting frustration, and 11% more reporting feelings of anger (p<0.05 for all, compared to before the pandemic).
The number of young people with poor well-being has doubled
Young people (children and adolescents) are a subgroup being looked at as a separate analysis, reported Dr Marco Solmi, University of Padua, Italy. Compared with before the pandemic, there has been a doubling in the number of young people who report poor well-being. There has also been a 20-30% increase in the number of young people reporting negative emotions, such as loneliness, stress, anger and frustration.
Data collection is ongoing. Subgroup analyses of people with prior mental health conditions, those who have lost family and friends due to COVID-19, and those who have recovered from COVID-19 themselves are expected to provide further insights.