Background: Studies on the public health consequences of COVID-19 pandemic showing data based on robust methods are scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate mental and physical health as well as living conditions and lifestyle habits in the general population before and after the COVID-19 outbreak in Sweden.
Methods: The study is based on 2273 persons 16-84 years who responded to the national public health survey in February-May 2020 in Värmland county (overall response rate 45%). The differences between early respondents (before the outbreak, n = 1711) and late respondents (after the outbreak, n = 562) were studied using multivariate logistic regression, adjusting for background characteristics: age, gender, educational level, and country of birth. The same analyses were also completed in the corresponding survey carried out in February-June 2018.
Results: Statistically significant differences between the groups were obtained for economic difficulties and worry about losing one's job, which were more common among late respondents, and for sleeping difficulties, which were more common among early respondents after adjusting for background characteristics. There were no differences in other living conditions nor in lifestyle factors. Prevalence of good self-rated health, high blood pressure, aches in shoulders or neck, anxiety or worry and stress did not differ between the groups. In 2018, the only statistically significant difference between early and late respondents concerned economic difficulties.
Conclusions: Very few differences in living conditions, lifestyle factors and health were observed in the study population before and after the COVID-19 outbreak. The results suggest that, in addition to a possible decrease in sleeping difficulties, the prevalence of being worried about losing one's job increased among the employed after the outbreak.
Keywords: COVID-19; Health behaviour; Health problems; Population studies; Social factors.
© 2022. The Author(s).