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      Psychological distress, anxiety, family violence, suicidality, and wellbeing in New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdown: A cross-sectional study

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          Abstract

          New Zealand’s early response to the novel coronavirus pandemic included a strict lockdown which eliminated community transmission of COVID-19. However, this success was not without cost, both economic and social. In our study, we examined the psychological wellbeing of New Zealanders during the COVID-19 lockdown when restrictions reduced social contact, limited recreation opportunities, and resulted in job losses and financial insecurity. We conducted an online panel survey of a demographically representative sample of 2010 adult New Zealanders in April 2020. The survey contained three standardised measures–the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), the GAD-7, and the Well-Being Index (WHO-5)–as well as questions designed specifically to measure family violence, suicidal ideation, and alcohol consumption. It also included items assessing positive aspects of the lockdown. Thirty percent of respondents reported moderate to severe psychological distress (K10), 16% moderate to high levels of anxiety, and 39% low wellbeing; well above baseline measures. Poorer outcomes were seen among young people and those who had lost jobs or had less work, those with poor health status, and who had past diagnoses of mental illness. Suicidal ideation was reported by 6%, with 2% reporting making plans for suicide and 2% reporting suicide attempts. Suicidality was highest in those aged 18–34. Just under 10% of participants had directly experienced some form of family harm over the lockdown period. However, not all consequences of the lockdown were negative, with 62% reporting ‘silver linings’, which included enjoying working from home, spending more time with family, and a quieter, less polluted environment. New Zealand’s lockdown successfully eliminated COVID-19 from the community, but our results show this achievement brought a significant psychological toll. Although much of the debate about lockdown measures has focused on their economic effects, our findings emphasise the need to pay equal attention to their effects on psychological wellbeing.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Immediate Psychological Responses and Associated Factors during the Initial Stage of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Epidemic among the General Population in China

          Background: The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic is a public health emergency of international concern and poses a challenge to psychological resilience. Research data are needed to develop evidence-driven strategies to reduce adverse psychological impacts and psychiatric symptoms during the epidemic. The aim of this study was to survey the general public in China to better understand their levels of psychological impact, anxiety, depression, and stress during the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak. The data will be used for future reference. Methods: From 31 January to 2 February 2020, we conducted an online survey using snowball sampling techniques. The online survey collected information on demographic data, physical symptoms in the past 14 days, contact history with COVID-19, knowledge and concerns about COVID-19, precautionary measures against COVID-19, and additional information required with respect to COVID-19. Psychological impact was assessed by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), and mental health status was assessed by the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21). Results: This study included 1210 respondents from 194 cities in China. In total, 53.8% of respondents rated the psychological impact of the outbreak as moderate or severe; 16.5% reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms; 28.8% reported moderate to severe anxiety symptoms; and 8.1% reported moderate to severe stress levels. Most respondents spent 20–24 h per day at home (84.7%); were worried about their family members contracting COVID-19 (75.2%); and were satisfied with the amount of health information available (75.1%). Female gender, student status, specific physical symptoms (e.g., myalgia, dizziness, coryza), and poor self-rated health status were significantly associated with a greater psychological impact of the outbreak and higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression (p < 0.05). Specific up-to-date and accurate health information (e.g., treatment, local outbreak situation) and particular precautionary measures (e.g., hand hygiene, wearing a mask) were associated with a lower psychological impact of the outbreak and lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression (p < 0.05). Conclusions: During the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, more than half of the respondents rated the psychological impact as moderate-to-severe, and about one-third reported moderate-to-severe anxiety. Our findings identify factors associated with a lower level of psychological impact and better mental health status that can be used to formulate psychological interventions to improve the mental health of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 epidemic.
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            A brief measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder: the GAD-7.

            Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common mental disorders; however, there is no brief clinical measure for assessing GAD. The objective of this study was to develop a brief self-report scale to identify probable cases of GAD and evaluate its reliability and validity. A criterion-standard study was performed in 15 primary care clinics in the United States from November 2004 through June 2005. Of a total of 2740 adult patients completing a study questionnaire, 965 patients had a telephone interview with a mental health professional within 1 week. For criterion and construct validity, GAD self-report scale diagnoses were compared with independent diagnoses made by mental health professionals; functional status measures; disability days; and health care use. A 7-item anxiety scale (GAD-7) had good reliability, as well as criterion, construct, factorial, and procedural validity. A cut point was identified that optimized sensitivity (89%) and specificity (82%). Increasing scores on the scale were strongly associated with multiple domains of functional impairment (all 6 Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form General Health Survey scales and disability days). Although GAD and depression symptoms frequently co-occurred, factor analysis confirmed them as distinct dimensions. Moreover, GAD and depression symptoms had differing but independent effects on functional impairment and disability. There was good agreement between self-report and interviewer-administered versions of the scale. The GAD-7 is a valid and efficient tool for screening for GAD and assessing its severity in clinical practice and research.
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              Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019

              Key Points Question What factors are associated with mental health outcomes among health care workers in China who are treating patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? Findings In this cross-sectional study of 1257 health care workers in 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 in multiple regions of China, a considerable proportion of health care workers reported experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress, especially women, nurses, those in Wuhan, and front-line health care workers directly engaged in diagnosing, treating, or providing nursing care to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Meaning These findings suggest that, among Chinese health care workers exposed to COVID-19, women, nurses, those in Wuhan, and front-line health care workers have a high risk of developing unfavorable mental health outcomes and may need psychological support or interventions.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: MethodologyRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: MethodologyRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: MethodologyRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: ResourcesRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                4 November 2020
                2020
                4 November 2020
                : 15
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
                [2 ] Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
                [3 ] Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
                [4 ] Department of Population Health, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
                [5 ] Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
                University of the Witwatersrand, SOUTH AFRICA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Article
                PONE-D-20-20518
                10.1371/journal.pone.0241658
                7641386
                33147259
                © 2020 Every-Palmer et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 4, Pages: 19
                Product
                Funding
                The authors received no specific funding for this work.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Medical Conditions
                Infectious Diseases
                Viral Diseases
                Covid 19
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Mental Health and Psychiatry
                Suicide
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Epidemiology
                Pandemics
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Emotions
                Anxiety
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Emotions
                Anxiety
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Mental Health and Psychiatry
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Research Design
                Survey Research
                Surveys
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Ethnicities
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Cognitive Science
                Cognitive Psychology
                Clinical Psychology
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Clinical Psychology
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Clinical Psychology
                Custom metadata
                The anonymous data (apart from the suicide data) are available from the Dryad database ( https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1c59zw3t0) licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication license. In line with the ethics approval from the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (F20/003), the data on suicide cannot be shared publicly. This is because of their sensitive nature and the relatively small numbers of positive results which make them potentially identifiable. This suicide data can be made available for researchers who have appropriate ethics approval for access to confidential data. Please contact the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee, Academic Committees Office, 1st floor, Scott/Shand House, 90 St David's Street, Dunedin, New Zealand, or through the following webpage: https://www.otago.ac.nz/council/committees/committees/HumanEthicsCommittees.html#Contacts/
                COVID-19

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