J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc.  2019 Aug;58(3):245-251. 10.4306/jknpa.2019.58.3.245.

Psychiatric Morbidity of Survivors One Year after the Outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in Korea, 2015

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea. psychepark@gmail.com
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Dankook University, Cheonan, Korea.
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, Seoul Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Department of Psychiatry, National Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. psyhee@hanmail.net
  • 6Department of Infectious Disease, National Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.


Patients with an infectious diseases during an outbreak can experience extreme fear and traumatic events in addition to suffering from their medical illness. This study examined the long-term impact of the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Korea, 2015 on the mental health of the survivors.
Sixty-three survivors from MERS were recruited from a prospective cohort study at six hospitals one year after the outbreak in 2015. The Korean-Symptom Check List 95 was administered to evaluate their psychiatric problems and analyzed according to the patient's characteristics and exposure to traumatic events during the outbreak.
A total of 63.5% of survivors suffered from significant psychiatric problems: post-traumatic symptoms (36.5%), sleep problems (36.5%), anxiety (34.9%), and depression (30.2%). Survivors with a history of a ventilator treatment during the MERS epidemic, a family member who died from MERS, and a past psychiatric history showed higher post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and suicidality than people who do not have those histories.
The study suggests that MERS survivors could have a high chance of adverse psychiatric consequences, even after their recovery from MERS. Exposure to traumatic events during the outbreak and premorbid individual vulnerability would affect the long-term mental health problems.


Middle east respiratory syndrome; Emerging infectious diseases; Mental health; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Depression

MeSH Terms

Cohort Studies
Communicable Diseases
Communicable Diseases, Emerging
Coronavirus Infections*
Mental Health
Middle East*
Prospective Studies
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorders, Traumatic
Ventilators, Mechanical
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