Prevalence and predictors of general psychiatric disorders and loneliness during COVID-19 in the United Kingdom

Psychiatry Res. 2020 Sep;291:113267. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113267. Epub 2020 Jun 30.


Despite ample research on the prevalence of specific psychiatric disorders during COVID-19, we know little about the broader psychological impact of the pandemic on a wider population. The study investigates the prevalence and predictors of general psychiatric disorders measured by the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and frequency of loneliness during COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, a country heavily hit by the pandemic. We analyzed 15,530 respondents of the first large-scale, nationally representative survey of COVID-19 in a developed country, the first wave of Understanding Society COVID-19 Study. Results show that 29.2% of the respondents score 4 or more, the caseness threshold, on the general psychiatric disorder measure, and 35.86% of the respondents sometimes or often feel lonely. Regression analyses show that those who have or had COVID-19-related symptoms are more likely to develop general psychiatric disorders and are lonelier. Women and young people have higher risks of general psychiatric disorders and loneliness, while having a job and living with a partner are protective factors. This study showcases the psychological impact, including general psychiatric disorders and loneliness, of broader members of the society during COVID-19 and the underlying social inequalities.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Family; Patients; Psychological impact; Social isolation; Unemployment; Youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult