J Korean Med Sci.  2021 Jan;36(3):e33. 10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e33.

The Psychological Burden of COVID-19 Stigma: Evaluation of the Mental Health of Isolated Mild Condition COVID-19 Patients

Affiliations
  • 1Public Healthcare Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Department of Family Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Abstract

Background
The objective of this article is to assess the mental health issues of the mild condition coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients admitted to a community treatment center (CTC) in Korea.
Methods
A total of 107 patients admitted to a CTC were included as the study population, and their mental health problems including depression (patient health questionnaire-9), anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder scale-7), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (PTSD checklist-5) and somatic symptoms (by patient health questionnaire-15) were evaluated every week during their stay. The stigma related to COVID-19 infection was evaluated with an adjusted version of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) stigma scale.
Results
During the first week of isolation, the prevalence of more-than-moderate depression was 24.3%, more-than-moderate anxiety was 14.9%, more-than-moderate somatic symptoms was 36.5% and possible PTSD was 5.6% of total population. For depression and anxiety, previous psychiatric history and stigma of COVID-19 infection were significant risk factors. For PTSD, previous psychiatric history and stigma of COVID-19 infection as well as total duration of isolation were found to be significant risk factors. Prevalence of depression, anxiety and possible PTSD remained similar across the four weeks of observations, though the prevalence of severe depression, increased after four weeks of stay. Somatic symptoms seemed to decrease during their stay.
Conclusion
The results suggest that social mitigation of COVID-19 related stigma, as well as care of patients with pre-existing mental health problems are important mental health measures during this crisis period. It is also important that clinical guidelines and public health policies be well balanced over the protection of the public and those quarantined to minimize the negative psychosocial consequences from isolation of the patients.

Keyword

COVID-19; Isolation; Depression; Anxiety; Stigma
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