Comorbidity and COVID-19: investigating the relationship between medical and psychological well-being

Owen Stafford, Anna Berry, Laura K. Taylor, Sinead Wearen, Cian Prendergast, Eddie Murphy, Mark Shevlin, Louise McHugh, Alan Carr, Tom Burke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Objective: 

The unprecedented occurrence of a global pandemic is accompanied by both physical and psychological burdens that may impair quality of life. Research relating to COVID-19 aims to determine the effects of the pandemic on vulnerable populations who are at high risk of developing negative health or psychosocial outcomes. Having an ongoing medical condition during a pandemic may lead to greater psychological distress. Increased psychological distress may be due to preventative public health measures (e.g. lockdown), having an ongoing medical condition, or a combination of these factors. 

Methods: 

This study analyses data from an online cross-sectional national survey of adults in Ireland and investigates the relationship between comorbidity and psychological distress. Those with a medical condition (n128) were compared to a control group without a medical condition (n128) and matched according to age, gender, annual income, education, and work status during COVID-19. Participants and data were obtained during the first public lockdown in Ireland (27.03.202008.06.2020). 

Results: 

Individuals with existing medical conditions reported significantly higher levels of anxiety (p<.01) and felt less gratitude (p≤.001). Exploratory analysis indicates that anxiety levels were significantly associated with illness perceptions specific to COVID-19. Post-hoc analysis reveal no significant difference between the number of comorbidities and condition type (e.g. respiratory disorders).

 Conclusion: 

This research supports individualised supports for people with ongoing medical conditions through the COVID-19 pandemic, and has implications for the consideration of follow-up care specifically for mental health. Findings may also inform future public health policies and post-vaccine support strategies for vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIrish Journal of Psychological Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted - 05 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© College of Psychiatrists of Ireland 2021.

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Comorbidity
  • COVID-19
  • Ireland
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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