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      The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and well-being of people living with a long-term physical health condition: a qualitative study


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          The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions caused major global disruption. Individuals with long-term physical health conditions (LTCs) are at higher risk of severe illness and often subject to the strictest pandemic guidance, so may be disproportionally affected. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore how living with a LTC during the COVID-19 pandemic affected people’s mental health and wellbeing.


          Participants were people living with LTCs who participated in telephone/video call interviews based on a semi-structured topic guide. Key themes and subthemes were determined using deductive and inductive thematic analysis.


          The sample included 32 participants with LTCs (most commonly cancer, respiratory conditions or cardiovascular diseases), mean age 57 (SD 13) years, 66% female and 72% white British. There were four overarching themes specific to living with a LTC. These were 1) high levels of fear and anxiety related to perceived consequences of catching COVID-19, 2) impact of shielding/isolation on mental health and wellbeing, 3) experience of healthcare during the pandemic and 4) anxiety created by uncertainty about the future. Fourteen subthemes were identified, including concerns about accessing essential supplies and the importance of social support. Individuals who lived alone and were advised to shield could be profoundly negatively affected.


          This study found that there were a number of aspects of living with a LTC during the pandemic that had a significant impact on mental health and well-being. There should be focus on how best to provide practical and social support to people with LTCs during a pandemic, particularly if they have to shield or isolate.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s12889-021-11751-3.

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          Most cited references30

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          Using thematic analysis in psychology

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            Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups.

            Qualitative research explores complex phenomena encountered by clinicians, health care providers, policy makers and consumers. Although partial checklists are available, no consolidated reporting framework exists for any type of qualitative design. To develop a checklist for explicit and comprehensive reporting of qualitative studies (in depth interviews and focus groups). We performed a comprehensive search in Cochrane and Campbell Protocols, Medline, CINAHL, systematic reviews of qualitative studies, author or reviewer guidelines of major medical journals and reference lists of relevant publications for existing checklists used to assess qualitative studies. Seventy-six items from 22 checklists were compiled into a comprehensive list. All items were grouped into three domains: (i) research team and reflexivity, (ii) study design and (iii) data analysis and reporting. Duplicate items and those that were ambiguous, too broadly defined and impractical to assess were removed. Items most frequently included in the checklists related to sampling method, setting for data collection, method of data collection, respondent validation of findings, method of recording data, description of the derivation of themes and inclusion of supporting quotations. We grouped all items into three domains: (i) research team and reflexivity, (ii) study design and (iii) data analysis and reporting. The criteria included in COREQ, a 32-item checklist, can help researchers to report important aspects of the research team, study methods, context of the study, findings, analysis and interpretations.
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              The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence

              Summary The December, 2019 coronavirus disease outbreak has seen many countries ask people who have potentially come into contact with the infection to isolate themselves at home or in a dedicated quarantine facility. Decisions on how to apply quarantine should be based on the best available evidence. We did a Review of the psychological impact of quarantine using three electronic databases. Of 3166 papers found, 24 are included in this Review. Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. Some researchers have suggested long-lasting effects. In situations where quarantine is deemed necessary, officials should quarantine individuals for no longer than required, provide clear rationale for quarantine and information about protocols, and ensure sufficient supplies are provided. Appeals to altruism by reminding the public about the benefits of quarantine to wider society can be favourable.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                7 October 2021
                7 October 2021
                : 21
                GRID grid.83440.3b, ISNI 0000000121901201, Department of Behavioural Science and Health, , University College London, ; 1-19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HB UK
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000279, Nuffield Foundation;
                Award ID: WEL/FR-000022583
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100004440, Wellcome Trust;
                Award ID: 221400/Z/20/Z
                Award ID: 205407/Z/16/Z
                Funded by: UK Research and Innovation
                Award ID: ES/S002588/1
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Public health
                chronic disease,pandemics,mental health,interview,social isolation
                Public health
                chronic disease, pandemics, mental health, interview, social isolation


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