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    Original Investigation
    July 1, 2020

    Prevalence of and Risk Factors Associated With Mental Health Symptoms Among the General Population in China During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Institute of Mental Health, National Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders, Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Peking University Sixth Hospital, Peking University, Beijing, China
    • 2Savaid Medical School, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    • 3National Institute on Drug Dependence and Beijing Key Laboratory of Drug Dependence, Peking University, Beijing, China
    • 4Peking University School of Public Health, Peking University, Beijing, China
    • 5Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
    • 6Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences and PKU-IDG, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing, China
    JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(7):e2014053. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.14053
    Key Points español 中文 (chinese)

    Question  What are the patterns of and factors associated with mental health conditions among the general population during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in China?

    Findings  In this survey study with 56 679 participants across all 34 province-level regions in China, 27.9% of participants had symptoms of depression, 31.6% had symptoms of anxiety, 29.2% had symptoms of insomnia, and 24.4% had symptoms of acute stress during the outbreak. Factors independently associated with negative mental health outcomes included having confirmed or suspected COVID-19, having a relative with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, having occupational exposure risks, living in Hubei province, and experiencing quarantine and delays in returning to work.

    Meaning  The mental health burden associated with COVID-19 is considerable among the general population of China, suggesting that mental health interventions are in urgent demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for some at-risk populations.


    Importance  People exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and a series of imperative containment measures could be psychologically stressed, yet the burden of and factors associated with mental health symptoms remain unclear.

    Objective  To investigate the prevalence of and risk factors associated with mental health symptoms in the general population in China during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  This large-sample, cross-sectional, population-based, online survey study was conducted from February 28, 2020, to March 11, 2020. It involved all 34 province-level regions in China and included participants aged 18 years and older. Data analysis was performed from March to May 2020.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  The prevalence of symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and acute stress among the general population in China during the COVID-19 pandemic was evaluated using the Patient Health Questionnaire–9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder–7, Insomnia Severity Index, and Acute Stress Disorder Scale. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore demographic and COVID-19–related risk factors.

    Results  Of 71 227 individuals who clicked on the survey link, 56 932 submitted the questionnaires, for a participation rate of 79.9%. After excluding the invalid questionnaires, 56 679 participants (mean [SD] age, 35.97 [8.22] years; 27 149 men [47.9%]) were included in the study; 39 468 respondents (69.6%) were aged 18 to 39 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rates of mental health symptoms among the survey respondents were 27.9% (95% CI, 27.5%-28.2%) for depression, 31.6% (95% CI, 31.2%-32.0%) for anxiety, 29.2% (95% CI, 28.8%-29.6%) for insomnia, and 24.4% (95% CI, 24.0%-24.7%) for acute stress. Participants with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and their family members or friends had a high risk for symptoms of depression (adjusted odds ratios [ORs], 3.27 [95% CI, 1.84-5.80] for patients; 1.53 [95% CI, 1.26-1.85] for family or friends), anxiety (adjusted ORs, 2.48 [95% CI, 1.43-4.31] for patients; 1.53 [95% CI, 1.27-1.84] for family or friends), insomnia (adjusted ORs, 3.06 [95% CI, 1.73-5.43] for patients; 1.62 [95% CI, 1.35-1.96] for family or friends), and acute stress (adjusted ORs, 3.50 [95% CI, 2.02-6.07] for patients; 1.77 [95% CI, 1.46-2.15] for family or friends). Moreover, people with occupational exposure risks and residents in Hubei province had increased odds of symptoms of depression (adjusted ORs, 1.96 [95% CI, 1.77-2.17] for occupational exposure; 1.42 [95% CI, 1.19-1.68] for Hubei residence), anxiety (adjusted ORs, 1.93 [95% CI, 1.75-2.13] for occupational exposure; 1.54 [95% CI, 1.30-1.82] for Hubei residence), insomnia (adjusted ORs, 1.60 [95% CI, 1.45-1.77] for occupational exposure; 1.20 [95% CI, 1.01-1.42] for Hubei residence), and acute stress (adjusted ORs, 1.98 [95% CI, 1.79-2.20] for occupational exposure; 1.49 [95% CI, 1.25-1.79] for Hubei residence). Both centralized quarantine (adjusted ORs, 1.33 [95% CI, 1.10-1.61] for depression; 1.46 [95% CI, 1.22-1.75] for anxiety; 1.63 [95% CI, 1.36-1.95] for insomnia; 1.46 [95% CI, 1.21-1.77] for acute stress) and home quarantine (adjusted ORs, 1.30 [95% CI, 1.25-1.36] for depression; 1.28 [95% CI, 1.23-1.34] for anxiety; 1.24 [95% CI, 1.19-1.30] for insomnia; 1.29 [95% CI, 1.24-1.35] for acute stress) were associated with the 4 negative mental health outcomes. Being at work was associated with lower risks of depression (adjusted OR, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.79-0.91]), anxiety (adjusted OR, 0.92 [95% CI, 0.86-0.99]), and insomnia (adjusted OR, 0.87 [95% CI, 0.81-0.94]).

    Conclusions and Relevance  The results of this survey indicate that mental health symptoms may have been common during the COVID-19 outbreak among the general population in China, especially among infected individuals, people with suspected infection, and people who might have contact with patients with COVID-19. Some measures, such as quarantine and delays in returning to work, were also associated with mental health among the public. These findings identify populations at risk for mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic and may help in implementing mental health intervention policies in other countries and regions.