Mental health risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Polish population
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Introduction: The level of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) associated with the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms was assessed. Risk factors for mental health in the Polish population have been identified. Material and methods: Nine hundred and twenty-six respondents completed a set of questionnaires consisting of questions concerning COVID-19, PTSS related to the COVID-19 outbreak (Impact of Event Scale-Revised, IES-R), and their mental health status (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale, DASS-21). Results: Most respondents reported severe PTSS related to the COVID-19 outbreak (44.06%), the normal intensity of depressive symptoms (52.38%), anxiety symptoms (56.05%), and stress (56.48%). Almost 20% of Polish respondents were characterized by a severe or extremely severe level of stress, anxiety, or depressive symptoms. Every seventh respondent reported an extremely severe level of depressive symptoms. Female gender, parental status, having a relationship, at least a two-person household were associated with higher PTSS or DASS-21 subscales. A few physical symptoms, a medical visit, quarantine, negative health evaluation, chronic diseases, knowledge about the increase in the number of infected people or deaths were associated with higher levels of PTSS. Some of the precautions and the need for additional information on COVID-19, the certainty of a high COVID-19 contracting probability or of a low survival rate, and concerns about the loved ones were associated with higher PTSS. Conclusions: The indicated risk factors can be used for developing psychological interventions to improve mental health. It is necessary to conduct qualitative research on the psychological reasons for the occurrence of mental symptoms during the pandemic.
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