Objectives The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to daily life. This study investigated depression, anxiety and stress in New Zealand (NZ) during the first 10 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated psychological and behavioural factors. It also compares the results with a similar cross-sectional study in the UK.
Design Cross-sectional study.
Setting NZ community cohort.
Participants N=681 adults (≥18 years) in NZ. The cohort was predominantly female (89%) with a mean age of 42 years (range 18–87). Most (74%) identified as NZ European and almost half (46%) were keyworkers. Most were non-smokers (95%) and 20% identified themselves as having clinical risk factors which would put them at increased or greatest risk of COVID-19.
Main outcome measures Depression, anxiety, stress, positive mood and engagement in health behaviours (smoking, exercise, alcohol consumption).
Results Depression and anxiety significantly exceeded population norms (p<0.0001). Being younger (p<0.0001) and most at risk of COVID-19 (p<0.05) were associated with greater depression, anxiety and stress. Greater positive mood, lower loneliness and greater exercise were protective factors for all outcomes (p<0.0001). Smoking (p=0.037) and alcohol consumption (p<0.05) were associated with increased anxiety. Pet ownership was associated with lower depression (p=0.006) and anxiety (p=0.008). When adjusting for age and gender differences, anxiety (p=0.002) and stress (p=0.007) were significantly lower in NZ than in the UK. The NZ sample reported lower perceived risk (p<0.0001) and worry about COVID-19 (p<0.0001) than the UK sample.
Conclusions The NZ population had higher depression and anxiety compared with population norms. Younger people and those most at risk of COVID-19 reported poorer mental health. Interventions should promote frequent exercise, and reduce loneliness and unhealthy behaviours.
- depression & mood disorders
- anxiety disorders
- public health
Data availability statement
No data are available. Participants of this study did not agree for their data to be shared publicly, so supporting data are not available.
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
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Contributors All authors (NG, KV, AM, RJ, KY, TC, CC and EB) contributed to the study design, interpretations of the findings and consented to the final version of the manuscript before submission to the publisher. NG and EB also managed recruitment, collected and analysed the data, and prepared the first draft of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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