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Correlates of Mental Health After COVID-19 Bereavement in Mainland China

      Abstract

      Context

      Pioneering empirical studies show that people bereaved due to COVID-19 experience elevated acute grief, posttraumatic stress, anxiety, and depressive symptom levels, which relate to functional impairment. However, studies focused on Western samples and multivariate analyses of relations between potential risk factors and mental health in this population are lacking.

      Objectives

      To assess the mental health of Chinese adults bereaved due to COVID-19. To elucidate the associations of demographic and loss-related characteristics with mental health after COVID-19 bereavement.

      Methods

      Four hundred twenty-two Chinese adults (56% male; Mean age: 32.73 years) recently bereaved due to COVID-19 completed an online survey. Demographic and loss-related characteristics and prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms were assessed.

      Results

      Clinically relevant prolonged grief (49%, n = 207), posttraumatic stress (22%, n = 92), depressive (70%; n = 294), and anxiety symptoms (65%; n = 272) were reported by a substantial group of participants. In four multiple regressions predicting each mental health indicator, Fs(15,406) = 5.08–7.74, Ps < 0.001, loss-characteristics (i.e., a shorter time since loss, βs =  -.12–.11, loss of a first-degree relative, βs =  .18-.37) and subjective loss experiences (i.e., feeling traumatized by the loss, βs =  .13-.18, or a close and/or conflictual relation with the deceased, βs =  .12-.23) related most consistently to mental health problems.

      Conclusion

      Many Chinese adults bereaved due to COVID-19 experience severe mental health problems. The recent loss of first-degree relatives, feeling traumatized by the loss, and having a close and/or conflictual relationship with the deceased may elevate risk for these mental health problems, which could require indicated psychological treatment.

      Key Words

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      References

      1. World Health Organization. WHO coronavirus disease (COVID-19) dashboard. 2021. Available at: https://covid19.who.int/. Accessed February 5, 2021.

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