This study compared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related stress, fear of infection, loneliness, and depression between patients with schizophrenia and the general population. A face-to-face survey was administered to 1340 patients with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder and online survey of the general population (n = 2000) was conducted. The information gathered included the level of COVID-19-related stress, fear of infection, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 score, and the three-item UCLA Loneliness Scale score. Structural equation modeling revealed a significant effect of fear of COVID-19 infection on depression among the general population and on loneliness among patients with schizophrenia. Loneliness experienced during COVID-19 exacerbated depression in both groups. In the COVID-19-related stress–loneliness–depression pathway, the partial mediating effect of loneliness was significant in both groups. Conversely, in the COVID-19-related fear–loneliness–depression pathway, the full mediating effect of loneliness was only significant in patients with schizophrenia. In conclusion, the loneliness associated with COVID-19-related stress and fear of infection was an important factor influencing depression, and the impact was greater in patients with schizophrenia compared with the general population. Thus, different mental health intervention plans are needed for patients with schizophrenia during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic, social support and provision of mental health services to prevent loneliness and consequent depression are required in patients with schizophrenia.

Fuente: Schizophrenia volume 8, Article number: 15 (2022)

Published: 07 March 2022