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      Closing the Psychological Treatment Gap During the COVID-19 Pandemic With a Supportive Text Messaging Program: Protocol for Implementation and Evaluation


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          Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has spread globally with far-reaching, significant, and unprecedented impacts on health and everyday life. Threats to mental health, psychological safety, and well-being are now emerging, increasing the impact of this virus on world health. Providing support for these challenges is difficult because of the high number of people requiring support in the context of a need to maintain physical distancing. This protocol describes the use of SMS text messaging (Text4Hope) as a convenient, cost-effective, and accessible population-level mental health intervention. This program is evidence-based, with prior research supporting good outcomes and high user satisfaction.


          The project goal is to implement a program of daily supportive SMS text messaging (Text4Hope) to reduce distress related to the COVID-19 crisis, initially among Canadians. The prevalence of stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms; the demographic correlates of the same; and the outcomes of the Text4Hope intervention in mitigating distress will be evaluated.


          Self-administered anonymous online questionnaires will be used to assess stress (Perceived Stress Scale), anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 scale [GAD-7]), and depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [PHQ-9]). Data will be collected at baseline (onset of SMS text messaging), the program midpoint (6 weeks), and the program endpoint (12 weeks).


          Data analysis will include parametric and nonparametric techniques, focusing on primary outcomes (ie, stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms) and metrics of use, including the number of subscribers and user satisfaction. Given the large size of the data set, machine learning and data mining methods will also be used.


          This COVID-19 project will provide key information regarding prevalence rates of stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms during the pandemic; demographic correlates of distress; and outcome data related to this scalable population-level intervention. Information from this study will be valuable for practitioners and useful for informing policy and decision making regarding psychological interventions during the pandemic.

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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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            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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              The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak – an update on the status

              An acute respiratory disease, caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, previously known as 2019-nCoV), the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread throughout China and received worldwide attention. On 30 January 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 epidemic as a public health emergency of international concern. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2, since the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2002 and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012, marked the third introduction of a highly pathogenic and large-scale epidemic coronavirus into the human population in the twenty-first century. As of 1 March 2020, a total of 87,137 confirmed cases globally, 79,968 confirmed in China and 7169 outside of China, with 2977 deaths (3.4%) had been reported by WHO. Meanwhile, several independent research groups have identified that SARS-CoV-2 belongs to β-coronavirus, with highly identical genome to bat coronavirus, pointing to bat as the natural host. The novel coronavirus uses the same receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as that for SARS-CoV, and mainly spreads through the respiratory tract. Importantly, increasingly evidence showed sustained human-to-human transmission, along with many exported cases across the globe. The clinical symptoms of COVID-19 patients include fever, cough, fatigue and a small population of patients appeared gastrointestinal infection symptoms. The elderly and people with underlying diseases are susceptible to infection and prone to serious outcomes, which may be associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and cytokine storm. Currently, there are few specific antiviral strategies, but several potent candidates of antivirals and repurposed drugs are under urgent investigation. In this review, we summarized the latest research progress of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical characteristics of COVID-19, and discussed the current treatment and scientific advancements to combat the epidemic novel coronavirus.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                June 2020
                22 June 2020
                22 June 2020
                : 9
                : 6
                : e19292
                [1 ] Department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry University of Alberta Edmonton, AB Canada
                [2 ] Addiction and Mental Health Alberta Health Services Edmonton, AB Canada
                [3 ] Department of Psychiatry Cumming School of Medicine University of Calgary Calgary, AB Canada
                [4 ] Strategic Clinical Networks System Innovation and Programs Alberta Health Services Calgary, AB Canada
                [5 ] Department of Community Health Sciences Cumming School of Medicine University of Calgary Calgary, AB Canada
                [6 ] Department of Computing Science Faculty of Science University of Alberta Edmonton, AB Canada
                [7 ] APEC Digital Hub for Mental Health Edmonton, AB Canada
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Vincent Israel Opoku Agyapong agyapong@ 123456ualberta.ca
                Author information
                ©Vincent Israel Opoku Agyapong, Marianne Hrabok, Wesley Vuong, April Gusnowski, Reham Shalaby, Kelly Mrklas, Daniel Li, Liana Urichuk, Mark Snaterse, Shireen Surood, Bo Cao, Xin-Min Li, Russ Greiner, Andrew James Greenshaw. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 22.06.2020.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 11 April 2020
                : 12 May 2020
                : 15 May 2020
                : 4 June 2020

                covid-19,text4hope,mobile phones,text,anxiety,depression,stress,pandemic,e-mental health


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