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.
Bibliographical noteFunding 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.
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.
© 2022, The Author(s).