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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic might affect mental health. Data from population-representative panel surveys with multiple waves including pre-COVID data investigating risk and protective factors are still rare.
In a stratified random sample of the German household population (n = 6684), we conducted survey-weighted multiple linear regressions to determine the association of various psychological risk and protective factors assessed between 2015 and 2020 with changes in psychological distress [(PD; measured via Patient Health Questionnaire for Depression and Anxiety (PHQ-4)] from pre-pandemic (average of 2016 and 2019) to peri-pandemic (both 2020 and 2021) time points. Control analyses on PD change between two pre-pandemic time points (2016 and 2019) were conducted. Regularized regressions were computed to inform on which factors were statistically most influential in the multicollinear setting.
PHQ-4 scores in 2020 (M = 2.45) and 2021 (M = 2.21) were elevated compared to 2019 (M = 1.79). Several risk factors (catastrophizing, neuroticism, and asking for instrumental support) and protective factors (perceived stress recovery, positive reappraisal, and optimism) were identified for the peri-pandemic outcomes. Control analyses revealed that in pre-pandemic times, neuroticism and optimism were predominantly related to PD changes. Regularized regression mostly confirmed the results and highlighted perceived stress recovery as most consistent influential protective factor across peri-pandemic outcomes.
We identified several psychological risk and protective factors related to PD outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. A comparison of pre-pandemic data stresses the relevance of longitudinal assessments to potentially reconcile contradictory findings. Implications and suggestions for targeted prevention and intervention programs during highly stressful times such as pandemics are discussed.
To evaluate the quality of mental health care delivered to patients with schizophrenia and related disorders taken-in-care by mental health services in four Italian regions (Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Sicily).
Thirty-one clinical indicators concerning accessibility, appropriateness, continuity and safety were defined and estimated using healthcare utilisation (HCU) databases, containing data on mental health treatments, hospital admissions, outpatient interventions, lab tests and drug prescriptions.
A total of 70 586 prevalent patients with schizophrenia and related disorders treated in 2015 were identified, of whom 1752 were newly taken-in-care by the facilities of regional mental health services. For most patients community care was accessible and moderately intensive. However, care pathways were not implemented based on a structured assessment and only half of the patients received psychosocial treatments. One patient out of ten had access to psychological interventions and psychoeducation. Activities specifically addressed to families involved a third of prevalent patients and less than half of new patients. One patient out of six was admitted to a community residential facility, and one out of ten to a General Hospital Psychiatric Ward (GHPW); higher values were identified in new cases. In general hospitals, few patients had a length of stay (LoS) of more than 30 days, while one-fifth of the admissions were followed by readmission within 30 days of discharge. For two-thirds of patients, continuity of community care was met, and six times out of ten a discharge from a GHPW was followed by an outpatient contact within 2 weeks. For cases newly taken-in-care, the continuity of community care was uncommon, while the readiness of outpatient contacts after discharge was slightly more frequent. Most of the patients received antipsychotic medication, but their adherence to long-term treatment was low. Antipsychotic polytherapy was frequent and the control of metabolic side effects was poor. The variability between regions was high and consistent in all the quality domains.
The Italian mental health system could be improved by increasing the accessibility to psychosocial interventions, improving the quality of care for newly taken-in-care patients, focusing on somatic health and mortality, and reducing regional variability. Clinical indicators demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the mental health system in these regions, and, as HCU databases, they could be useful tools in the routine assessment of mental healthcare quality at regional and national levels.
One critical barrier to the uptake of mental health programmes is the so-called physical healthcare gap, a concern raised by the unattended physical comorbidity and early mortality of persons with severe mental illness.
To evaluate the extension of physical healthcare gap among persons with severe mental illness under chronic drug therapies.
A population-based cohort study was carried out, using Lombardy healthcare utilisation databases. Prevalent patients treated with blood pressure-, lipid- or glucose-lowering agents were identified in January 2017. Among these, those who were receiving care for depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or personality disorder formed the study cohort. A reference cohort was randomly selected from prevalent patients treated with chronic therapies without signs of severe mental disorders, to be matched with study cohort members for gender, age and number of previous contacts with the National Health System. One-year adherence to healthcare was measured through the proportion of days covered (drug adherence), and exposure to selected recommendations (clinical control adherence).
The 55 162 patients with severe mental illness were less likely to have high adherence to blood pressure-lowering, lipid-lowering or antidiabetic agents than the reference cohort by −24% (95% CI −26 to −22%), −10% (95% CI −14 to −6%) and −25% (95% CI −29 to −21%), respectively. The 9250 patients with diabetes and severe mental illness had −18% (95% CI −22% to −13%) reduced likelihood to meet recommendations for the clinical management of diabetes, compared with the reference cohort.
Adherence to chronic drug therapies was sensibly worse among patients living with mental illness than those without signs of mental disorders.
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