Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread disruption. The virus itself, as well as the restrictive measures to reduce transmission, have the potential to negatively impact mental health. In this study, we surveyed individuals with schizophrenia (SZ), psychotic bipolar disorder (BP), and healthy controls (HC) about the pandemic’s negative impacts.
Methods: We recruited 149 subjects (47 SZ, 53 BP, 49 HC) to take the Epidemic Pandemic Impacts Inventory (EPII) (Grasso et al., 2020). We performed a one-way analysis of variance to examine the relationship between the three diagnostic groups and number of pandemic-related negative impacts. We also explored between-group differences in the eight negative impact subscores.
Results: Only one subject (BP) in the sample reported a positive COVID test. The rate of self-reported suspected COVID was 10.1% for the entire sample and did not significantly differ by group (8.5% of SZ, 7.6% of BP, 12.2% of HC; X2=0.72, p=0.697).
We found a main effect of diagnosis on the EPII total negative impacts score (F2,146=3.22, p=0.0430). Post-hoc comparisons revealed that the mean number of negative impacts in BP (mean 17.4 ± SD 5.9) was higher than that for SZ (14.6 ± 7.2) (p=0.060 with Sidak correction); the differences between each patient group and HC (15.0 ± 4.5) were not statistically significant. The difference in negative experiences was driven by three subdomains: work/employment (X2=20.0, p=0.0001), emotional health (X2= 33. 3, p<0.0001), and non-COVID-19 physical health (X2=7.4, p=0.02).
Post-hoc pairwise comparisons indicated that SZ patients were less negatively impacted in work/employment compared to BP (p=0.01) and HC (p<0.00001). For emotional health, BP had greater impacts relative to HC (p<0.00001). For non-COVID physical health, BP endorsed more difficulties compared to HC (p=0.01).
Conclusion: We found no differences in the number of suspected COVID-19 between groups. Nevertheless, individuals with a psychotic disorder, particularly psychotic BP, may be more negatively affected by the pandemic. These findings suggest that individuals with psychotic disorders may require more supports in this challenging time.