Post-traumatic stress disorder and associated factors during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The COVID-19 outbreak and the sudden lockdown of society in March 2020 had a large impact on people’s daily life and gave rise to concerns for the mental health in the general population. The aim of the study was to examine post-traumatic stress reactions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of symptom-defined post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and factors associated with post-traumatic stress in the Norwegian population during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. A survey was administered via social media channels, to which a sample of 4527 adults (≥18 years) responded. Symptom-defined PTSD was measured with the PTSD Checklist for the DSM-5. The items were specifically linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. We used the DSM-5 diagnostic guidelines to categorize participants as fulfilling the PTSD symptom criteria or not. Associations with PTSD were examined with single and multiple logistic regression analyses. The prevalence of symptom-defined PTSD was 12.5% for men and 19.5% for women. PTSD was associated with lower age, female gender, lack of social support, and a range of pandemic-related variables such as economic concerns, expecting economic loss, having been in quarantine or isolation, being at high risk for complications from COVID-19 infection, and having concern for family and close friends. In conclusion, post-traumatic stress reactions appear to be common in the Norwegian population in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. Concerns about finances, health, and family and friends seem to matter.