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Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21266896


Studies report a strong impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related stressors on the mental wellbeing of general population. In this paper, we investigated whether COVID-19 related concerns and social adversity affected schizotypal traits, anxiety and depression using structural equational modelling. In mediation analyses, we furthermore explored whether these associations were mediated by healthy (sleep and physical exercise) or unhealthy behaviours (drug and alcohol consumption, excessive media use). We assessed schizotypy, depression and anxiety as well as, healthy and unhealthy behaviours and a wide range of sociodemographic scores using online surveys from residents of Germany and the United Kingdom over one year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Four independent samples were collected (April/ May 2020: N=781, September/ October 2020: N=498, January/ February 2021: N=544, May 2021: N= 486). The results revealed that COVID-19 related life concerns were significantly associated with schizotypy in the autumn 2020 and spring 2021 surveys, and with anxiety and depressive symptoms in all surveys; and social adversity significantly affected the expression of schizotypal traits in all but the spring 2020 survey, and depressive and anxiety symptoms in all samples. Importantly, we found that excessive media consumption (>4h per day) fully mediated the relationship of COVID-19 related life concerns and schizotypal traits in the winter 2021 survey. Furthermore, several of the surveys showed that excessive media consumption was associated with increased depressive and anxiety- related symptoms in people burdened by COVID-19 related life. The ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic and the restrictions on social life have a strong impact on mental well-being and especially the expression of schizotypal traits. The negative impact is further boosted by excessive media consumption, which is especially critical for people with high schizotypal traits.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21251726


Studies reported a strong impact on mental health during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in March-June, 2020. In this study, we assessed the impact of the pandemic on mental health in general and on schizoptypal traits in two independent general population samples of the UK (May sample N: 239, October sample N: 126; participation at both timepoints: 21) and in two independent general population samples of Germany (May sample N: 543, October sample N: 401; participation at both timepoints: 100) using online surveys. Whereas general psychological symptoms (global symptom index, GSI) and percentage of responders above clinical cut-off for further psychological investigation were higher in the May sample compared to the October sample, schizotypy scores (Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire) were higher in the October sample. We investigated potential associations, using general linear regression models (GLM). For schizotypy scores, we found that loneliness, use of drugs, and financial burden were more strongly corrected with schizotypy in the October compared to the May sample. We identified similar associations for GSI, as for schizotypy scores, in the May and October samples. We furthermore found that living in the UK was related to higher schizotypal scores or GSI. However, individual estimates of the GLM are highly comparable between the two countries. In conclusion, this study shows that while the general psychological impact is lower in the October than the May sample, potentially showing a normative response to an exceptional situation; schizotypy scores are higher at the second timepoint, which may be due to a stronger impact of estimates of loneliness, drug use, and financial burden. The ongoing, exceptional circumstances within this pandemic might increase the risk for developing psychosis in some individuals. The development of general psychological symptoms and schizotypy scores over time requires further attention and investigation.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20236067


IntroductionDue to the spreading of COVID-19, one key challenge was to reduce potential staff shortages in the healthcare sector. Besides a reactivation of retired healthcare workers, medical students were considered to support this task. We herein analysed the commitment of medical students during the COVID-19-pandemic as well as their burdens and anxieties. MethodsVia an online survey, medical students in Germany were asked regarding these themes. The survey period took place during a two-week period in April and Mai 2020. 1241 questionnairs were included in the analysis. Results67.9% [65.3; 70.5] of the participants reported that they volunteered during the pandemic. Simultaneously, 88.9% [86.9; 90.5] of the participants stated to be against a compulsory recruitment in this context. Students who volunteered showed a significantly lower anxiety index than students, who did not volunteer. Concerns about transferring the virus to patients or relatives were significantly higher than concerns about the students own infection. ConclusionThe results of this survey study suggest that the majority of students are working voluntary during the pandemic. They declared mostly that they had adequate opportunities to protect themselves. Finally, their biggest fear was to infect other patients, relatives, or friends.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20182980


BackgroundThe COVID-19 pandemic has led to dramatic social and economic changes in daily life. First studies report an impact on mental health of the general population showing increased levels of anxiety, stress and depression. In this study, we compared the impact of the pandemic on two culturally and economically similar European countries: the UK and Germany. MethodsParticipants (UK=241, German=541) completed an online-survey assessing COVID-19 exposure, impact on financial situation and work, substance and media consumption, mental health using the tSymptom-Check-List-27 (SCL-27) and the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire. ResultsWe found distinct differences between the two countries. UK responders reported a stronger direct impact on health, financial situation and families. UK responders had higher clinical scores on the SCL-27, and higher prevalence. Interestingly, German responders were less hopeful for an end of the pandemic and more concerned about their life-stability. ConclusionAs 25% of both German and UK responders reported a subjective worsening of the general psychological symptoms and 20-50% of German and UK responders reached the clinical cut-off for depressive and dysthymic symptoms as well as anxieties, it specifically shows the need for tailored intervention systems to support large proportions of the general public.