Objective: To investigate the effect of the time spent on quarantine on distress, anxiety, depression, and somatization of chronic disease patients during the COVID-19 quarantine in Greece and the differences in these parameters between healthy individuals and chronic disease patients.
Method: The sample consisted of 943 healthy individuals and 163 patients (respiratory, autoimmune, cardiovascular, endocrine, patients with other diseases, and patients with more than one disease) completing sociodemographic assessments as well as the 4-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire (4DSQ) during March 30, 2020 to May 3, 2020. Pearson's correlation was used to search for the association between time spent on quarantine and the 4DSQ subscales (distress, anxiety, depression, and somatization). Independent sample T-test and Glass's Δ were used for differences between healthy individuals and chronic disease patients in these subscales, an analysis also carried out between healthy individuals and all patient subgroups.
Results: No statistically significant correlations were noted between the 4DSQ subscales and the quarantine duration, both for the patient and the healthy individuals' group. Chronic disease patients had significantly higher levels of distress (p = 0.001, Δ = 0.28) and somatization (p = 0.000, Δ = 0.47), but not there were no significant differences in anxiety (p = 0.098, Δ = 0.14) and depression (p = 0.052, Δ = 0.19). Concerning head-to-head comparisons between the healthy individuals' group and each patient group, significantly higher scores in distress were found only for patients with respiratory diseases (p = 0.028, Δ = 0.42). Regarding somatization, significantly higher scores were noted for the healthy individuals' group compared with patients with autoimmune diseases (p = 0.010, Δ = 0.62), respiratory diseases (p = 0.027, Δ = 0.42), other diseases (p = 0.003, Δ = 0.55), and more than one disease (p = 0.012, Δ = 0.60). No statistically significant differences were found in anxiety and depression.
Significance of results: The results of this study indicate that interventional programs for chronic disease patients during quarantine should focus on distress and somatization, not on anxiety and depression. Respiratory patients might have more supportive care needs compared with patients with other diseases.
Keywords: Asthma; Autoimmune; Cardiovascular; Mental health; Pandemic.