Introduction: No studies have reported mental health symptom comparisons prior to and during COVID-19 in vulnerable medical populations.
Objective: To compare anxiety and depression symptoms among people with a pre-existing medical condition and factors associated with changes.
Methods: Pre-COVID-19 Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network Cohort data were linked to COVID-19 data from April 2020. Multiple linear and logistic regression were used to assess factors associated with continuous change and ≥ 1 minimal clinically important difference (MCID) change for anxiety (PROMIS Anxiety 4a v1.0; MCID = 4.0) and depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-8; MCID = 3.0) symptoms, controlling for pre-COVID-19 levels.
Results: Mean anxiety symptoms increased 4.9 points (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.0 to 5.7). Depression symptom change was negligible (0.3 points; 95% CI -0.7 to 0.2). Compared to France (N = 159), adjusted anxiety symptom change scores were significantly higher in the United Kingdom (N = 50; 3.3 points, 95% CI 0.9 to 5.6), United States (N = 128; 2.5 points, 95% CI 0.7 to 4.2), and Canada (N = 98; 1.9 points, 95% CI 0.1 to 3.8). Odds of ≥1 MCID increase were 2.6 for the United Kingdom (95% CI 1.2 to 5.7) but not significant for the United States (1.6, 95% CI 0.9 to 2.9) or Canada (1.4, 95% CI 0.7 to 2.5). Older age and adequate financial resources were associated with less continuous anxiety increase. Employment and shorter time since diagnosis were associated with lower odds of a ≥ 1 MCID increase.
Conclusions: Anxiety symptoms, but not depression symptoms, increased dramatically during COVID-19 among people with a pre-existing medical condition.
Keywords: Adult; Anxiety; COVID-19; Clinical epidemiology; Depressed mood; Depressive symptoms; Epidemiology; Pandemic; Scleroderma; Systemic sclerosis.
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