Mental health comparison between Austria and UK during the initial restrictions due to COVID-19


Consequences of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown on mental health are widely discussed. This project evaluated mental health in the United Kingdom (UK) and Austria during the COVID-19 lockdown. Cross-sectional, contemporaneous online surveys aiming at representative samples according to age, gender, education, and region were performed after four weeks of lockdown in the UK (N=1006) as well as in Austria(N=1009). Indicators of mental health were mental quality of life (WHO-QOL BREF), well-being (WHO-5), depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7), stress (PSS-10), and sleep quality (ISI). Results: Sample size was N=1,009 for Austria (52.2% women) and N=1,006 (54.1% women) for the UK. 8.4% in Austria and 24.6 % in UK scored above the PHQ-9 cut-off =15 for severe depressive symptoms (?2=(3)=118.58; p<.001), 6.0% in Austria vs. 18.9% in UK scored above the GAD-7 cut-off =15 for severe anxiety symptoms (?2=(3)=116.23; p<.001), 15.8 % in Austria and 28.2% scored above the ISI cut-off =15 for clinical insomnia (?2=(3)=60.74; p<.001). Scores for Austria vs. the UK were (all p-values <.001): PHQ-9: M=6.2±5.4 vs. M=9.0±7.7 (g=.41); GAD-7: M=5.9±4.7 vs. M=8.0±6.5 (g=.38); ISI: M=8.3±5.7 vs. M=10.4±7.0 (g=.33); PSS-10: M=16.0±7.5 vs. M=17.7±7.9 (g=.22); psychological health (WHO-QOL BREF): M=69.8±18.7 vs. M=58.6±21.4 (g=.56); WHO-5 score M=15.1±5.4 vs. 13.0±6.0 (g=.37). Conclusions: The prevalence of depressive-, anxiety-, or insomnia symptoms increased significantly in Austria and the UK. However, the prevalence of severe symptoms is around three times higher in the UK than in Austria. Psychological support should be urgently offered to counteract this development in both countries.


Duration 15/04/2020 - 30/06/2020

Department for Psychotherapy and Biopsychosocial Health

Principle investigator for the project (Danube University Krems) Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christoph Pieh
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