The biopsychosocial model provides a useful perspective for understanding the development and characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic and its anticipated long-term consequences for society as well as individuals. This article provides a biopsychosocial perspective on the COVID pandemic and an editorial comment on the articles in this Special Issue of Psychosomatic Medicine. Based on analysis of the PubMed database, it is shown that the attention to psychological and social factors is 74% higher in COVID-19-related articles compared to all other health-related scientific articles published during the same time-period (between 1/1/2020 and 4/18/2021). Specifically, 18.6% of the ≈123,500 articles addressing COVID-19-related topics also included psychological or social factors in their content vs. 10.7% of articles that did not address COVID-19. The biopsychosocial model is relevant to understanding the interrelationships among risk factors and the multidimensional clinical and psychosocial COVID-19 outcomes. Clinical outcomes directly related to COVID-19 range from severe but rare events (mortality and intensive care treatment) to less severe common outcomes such as positive screening tests for COVID-19 with or without symptoms. In addition, psychosocial outcomes range in severity from frequently observed reduced psychological wellbeing to less common clinical mood and anxiety disorders and, in rare cases, suicidality. The COVID-19 pandemic is characterized by an unusually strong and short-term link between social factors and biological aspects of the disease, without mediating psychological factors. After a review of the articles presented in this Special Issue, this editorial concludes with suggestions for biopsychosocial models in research on COVID-19 and other large-scale health threats.
Copyright © 2021 by the American Psychosomatic Society.