Psychological sequelae within different populations during the COVID-19 pandemic: a rapid review of extant evidence

Singapore Med J. 2020 Jul 30. doi: 10.11622/smedj.2020111. Online ahead of print.


The rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a potentially significant impact on not only physical health but also psychological well-being. To our best knowledge, no review thus far has consolidated the psychological impact of COVID-19 across different subpopulations. A systematic search of the literature until 15 June 2020 found 150 empirical papers pertinent to the mental health consequences of the pandemic. The majority (87.3%) were from China (45.3%), the rest of Asia (22.0%) and Europe (20.0%), and mostly examined the general population (37.3%), healthcare workers (31.3%) and those with pre-existing mental and physical illnesses (14.7%). The most common psychological responses across these subpopulations were anxiety (overall range 24.8%-49.5%), depression (overall range 18.6%-42.6%) and traumatic stress symptoms (overall range 12.7%-31.6%). Healthcare workers and those with pre-existing physical and mental illnesses were more severely affected. Future studies are needed on under-examined subgroups such as the elderly and recovered COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: healthcare workers; infectious diseases; psychological responses; vulnerable populations.