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Psychological wellbeing in the English population during the COVID-19 pandemic: A series of cross-sectional surveys

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posted on 2024-01-24, 17:10 authored by Louise SmithLouise Smith, James RubinJames Rubin

Psychological distress has been elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, few studies published to date have investigated distress after the first wave of infections (Spring – Summer 2020). We investigated distress and wellbeing between April 2020 and April 2022 in England through a series of cross-sectional online surveys. People aged 16 years or over living in the UK were eligible for the surveys; for this study we selected only those living in England due to differences in restrictions between UK nations. Distress was measured using the PHQ4 (n = 60,921 responses), while wellbeing was measured using the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (n = 61,152 responses). Throughout, approximately 50%–60% of women and 40%–50% of men reported distress, higher than the 25%–30% of women, and 20%–25% of men reported in normative data. Wellbeing was also worse than population norms, with women reporting lower wellbeing than men. Rates of distress in the English population have been consistently high throughout the pandemic. Patterns of distress have broadly mirrored the pattern of restrictions and case numbers, but there are notable exceptions which indicate that other factors may play a part in population mental health.

Funding

Evaluating and improving communication with the public during a pandemic, using rapid turn around telephone surveys

NIHR Evaluation Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre

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Department of Health and Social Care

History

Geospatial coverage

England

Data collection from date

2020/04/20

Data collection to date

2022/04/13

Collection method

Online survey. Participants were eligible to take part if they lived in the UK and were aged 16 years or older. Participants were recruited from two specialist research panel providers (Respondi, n=50,000; Savanta, n=31,500) using quota sampling (age and gender combined, and region). These are people who have signed up to take part in online surveys. Consent was implied by participants’ completion of the survey, as is the industry standard. Data were collected in line with the terms and conditions that people agreed to when signing up to be a member of the research panel.

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    Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

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