Psychological Distress and Loneliness Reported by US Adults in 2018 and April 2020 | Anxiety Disorders | JAMA | JAMA Network
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    Isolation, Loneliness and Psychological Distress During COVID-19
    Michael McAleer, PhD (Econometrics), Queen's | Asia University, Taiwan
    The invaluable and sensitive research letter on psychological distress and loneliness will strike a touching chord with everyone who has experienced such symptoms, or knows someone who has, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which shows little sign of abatement.

    The important findings based on a  comparison of national data from 2018 and an independent representative national survey in April 2020 for respondents aged 18 years or older would be enhanced considerably with further surveys and clinical analysis according to:

    (1) updating the findings from the early days of the pandemic in April 2020 through to August 2020;
    /> (2) expanding the analysis to include elementary school children and high school students;

    (3) using gradations of psychological distress from serious to medium and mild, together with degrees of loneliness, isolation, social distancing, quarantining, and lockdowns;

    (4) conditioning on a wider set of control variables, including race, ethnicity, and varying degrees of income and employment disparities;

    (5) including non-healthcare essential services providers who are faced with a higher likelihood of contracting the disease in the workplace;

    (6) conducting separate surveys for front line healthcare workers, who are known to suffer from both COVID-19 and acute mental health issues, ranging from medium through to extremely serious cases of morbidity and mortality.

    It is not surprising that the symptoms of psychological distress and loneliness are greater in 2020 than in 2018, but this disparity will have increased substantially as the pandemic continues to grow exponentially rather than flattening.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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    Research Letter
    June 3, 2020

    Psychological Distress and Loneliness Reported by US Adults in 2018 and April 2020

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
    • 2Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
    JAMA. 2020;324(1):93-94. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.9740

    Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) introduced stressors to mental health, including loneliness stemming from social isolation, fear of contracting the disease, economic strain, and uncertainty about the future. We fielded a national survey measuring symptoms of psychological distress and loneliness among US adults in April 2020 and compared results with national data from 2018.

    We fielded the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Civic Life and Public Health Survey from April 7 to April 13, 2020, using NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel. AmeriSpeak is a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US adult population. The panel is sourced from NORC’s area probability sample and from a US Postal Service address–based sample covering 97% of US households.1 The panel has a recruitment rate of 34% and includes approximately 35 000 members. The sample for the Johns Hopkins survey was drawn from this panel and the survey was administered online. NORC obtains informed consent prior to enrolling individuals in the panel. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health institutional review board deemed this study not human participants research and waived informed consent.

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