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The impact of shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Di Gessa, Giorgio; Price, Debora; (2022) The impact of shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The British Journal of Psychiatry 10.1192/bjp.2022.44. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, older and clinically vulnerable people were instructed to shield or stay at home. Policies restricting social contact and human interaction pose a risk to mental health, but we know very little about the impact of shielding and stay-at-home orders on the mental health of older people. Aims. To understand the extent to which shielding contributes to poorer mental health. Method: We used longitudinal data from wave 9 (2018/2019) and two COVID-19 sub-studies (June/July 2020; November/December 2020) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and constructed logistic and linear regression models to investigate associations between patterns of shielding during the pandemic and mental health, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, pre-pandemic physical and mental health, and social isolation measures. Results: By December 2020, 70% of older people were still shielding or staying at home, with 5% shielding throughout the first 9 months of the pandemic. Respondents who shielded experienced worse mental health. Although prior characteristics and lack of social interactions explain some of this association, even controlling for all covariates, those shielding throughout had higher odds of reporting elevated depressive symptoms (odds ratio 1.87, 95% CI 1.22–2.87) and lower quality of life (β = −1.28, 95% CI −2.04 to −0.52) than those who neither shielded nor stayed at home. Shielding was also associated with increased anxiety. Conclusions: Shielding seems associated with worse mental health among older people, highlighting the need for policy makers to address the mental health needs of those who shielded, both in the current pandemic and for the future.

Type: Article
Title: The impact of shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2022.44
Publisher version: https://www.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2022.44
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
Keywords: Pandemic, Older people, Covid19, Shielding, Mental Health, Depression, England, ELSA, Ageing, Quality of Life, Anxiety, Life satisfaction
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10146371
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