The COVID-19 pandemic represents a major stressor for the psychological health of people worldwide. In the UK, the COVID19-Psychological Research Consortium Study (C19PRC) launched to evaluate the psychological impact of COVID-19 in the general population and its implications. The project was then extended to Italy and several other countries. This article provides an overview of the Italian C19PRC study and its replication of two specific findings from the UK C19PRC. In the first part, the relationship between anxiety and somatic symptomatology is examined. In the second part, we analyze the association between several factors and psychological health outcomes: depression/anxiety, traumatic stress, COVID-19 anxiety. In line with the study conducted in the UK, an online survey was administered to the adult Italian general population. The sample included 1038 respondents (age, mean = 49.94, SD = 16.14, 51.15% females) taken from four regions: Lombardia, Veneto, Lazio, and Campania. The relationship between predictors and outcomes was evaluated by means of logistic regression models. Somatic indices showed a positive association with anxiety, worse somatic symptoms were associated with mourning a loss of a beloved one due to COVID-19 and with precarious health conditions. Females showed a higher incidence of psychological issues. No differences in anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress were found across regions but the Campania region showed the most severe somatic symptomatology. In the second analysis, the factors associated with more severe psychological outcomes (i.e., anxiety and/or depression, traumatic stress, and COVID-19 related anxiety) were younger age, the presence of minors in the household, traumatic stressors, and precarious health conditions. No differences across regions emerged. The Italian results correspond to the UK findings for anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress. Both in the UK and Italy, the factors associated with worse psychological health were gender (female), younger age, having children, pre-existing health issues (both for oneself or someone close), and the moderate/high perceived risk of contracting COVID-19 within one month. In Italy, unlike the UK, lower household income and having (had) COVID-19 were not associated with poorer mental health. The psychological impact of COVID-19 can last for months; future research should explore all aspects of the psychological burden of COVID-19 in order to implement psychological interventions and promote psychological health.
Keywords: COVID-19; anxiety; depression; general population; psychological health; somatic symptoms.