This study examines the associations of the COVID -19 pandemic stressors with mental health and quality of life (QoL) of the general population in different demographic areas of Athens. The random sample of the study consisted of 602 participants, 389 (64,6%) women and 213 (35,4%) men residing in Attica (Greece). It was conducted with telephone interviews during the first wave of the pandemic. The instruments used were: World Health Organization Quality of Life Instrument (WHOQOL-BREF), Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS – 21), Body Vigilance Scale (ΒVS), Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Category 1: contamination obsessions -decontamination compulsions) (DOCS) and a set of socio-demographic data and questions on stressors related to the COVID-19 outbreak. A range of statistical analyses were used, including descriptive statistics, examination of the questionnaires’ internal consistency, calculating Cronbach’s alpha coefficient, as well as multiple linear regression analyses with dependent variables the WHOQOL-BREF, DASS-21, DOCS, and BVS scales. According to the results of our study: a) The greater the extent of negative emotions due to the pandemic and the imposed restrictive measures, such as worry and fear, the higher the score of depression, anxiety, stress, obsessive-compulsive symptomatology, body vigilance and the lower the scores of the WHOQOL domains (Physical Health, Psychological Health, Social Relationships, Environment), b) the fear of being contaminated by the virus seems to have intensified depression-anxiety-stress (DASS-21), obsessive–compulsive (DOCS) and hypochondriacal (BVS) symptomatology. c) The independent variables of depression, stress and anxiety and obsessive - compulsive and hypochondriacal symptomatology were negatively associated with QoL d) The most vulnerable groups in terms of QoL and mental health indicators in our study were those with psychiatric or/and physical illness, the elderly, the unemployed during the lockdown period, those with low educational/ socioeconomic status and those living alone. In conclusion, the negative emotions associated with the COVID-19 outbreak and the imposed restrictive measures had a serious impact on mental health and QoL of the population. This and other similar findings should be taken into account by authorities and decision-makers to prevent and deal with the effects of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is still continuing and the imposition of new restrictive measures is considered. This increases the relevance of research like the one presented here.
KEYWORDS: COVID-19 stressors, quality of life, depression, stress, contamination obsessions -decontamination compulsions, body vigilance.
Eugenia Triantafillou, Panagiotis Tsellos, Nikos Christodoulou, Chara Tzavara, Irina Mrvoljak-Theodoropoulou, George N. Christodoulou