An eight country cross-sectional study of the psychosocial effects of COVID-19 induced quarantine and/or isolation during the pandemic

Philip J. Schluter*, Mélissa Généreux, Elsa Landaverde, Emily Y.Y. Chan, Kevin K.C. Hung, Ronald Law, Catherine P.Y. Mok, Virginia Murray, Tracey O’Sullivan, Zeeshan Qadar, Mathieu Roy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forced quarantine and nationwide lockdowns have been a primary response by many jurisdictions in their attempt at COVID-19 elimination or containment, yet the associated mental health burden is not fully understood. Using an eight country cross-sectional design, this study investigates the association between COVID-19 induced quarantine and/or isolation on probable generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive episode (MDE) psychological outcomes approximately eight months after the pandemic was declared. Overall, 9027 adults participated, and 2937 (32.5%) were indicated with GAD and/or MDE. Reported quarantine and/or isolation was common, with 1199 (13.8%) confined for travel or health requirements, 566 (6.5%) for being close contact, 720 (8.3%) for having COVID-19 symptoms, and 457 (5.3%) for being COVID-19 positive. Compared to those not quarantining or isolating, the adjusted estimated relative risks of GAD and/or MDE associated with quarantine and/or isolation was significant (p < 0.001), ranging from 1.24 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07, 1.43) for travel/health to 1.37 (95% CI 1.19, 1.59) for COVID-19 symptom isolation reasons. While almost universally employed, quarantine and/or isolation is associated with a heavy mental health toll. Preventive strategies are needed, such as minimizing time-limits imposed and providing clear rationale and information, together with additional treatment and rehabilitation resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13175
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a Canadian Institute of Health Research Operating Grant (OV7-170635). The funding agency had no role in the design and conduct of the study, management, analyses, interpretation of the results or in the preparation, review or approval of the article.

Funding Information:
This study sits within a broader program of research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Board of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie—CHUS (HEC ref: 2020–3674). Informed consent was obtained from all participants before their participation, and the collection of information was carried out confidentially. Participants were able to withdraw at any time without penalty or need for explanation. The datasets did not carry any personally identifiable information. The study complied with the ethical standards for human experimentation as established by the Helsinki Declaration and Canada’s HEC. All methods and reporting were performed in accordance with HEC’s relevant guidelines and regulations.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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