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Study examines COVID anxiety among adults in the UK and impact of psychological treatments

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23 January 2024

Published in the journal BMC Psychiatry, a new study explores the impact of psychological treatments on reducing Covid anxiety among adults in the UK

The study was led by CNWL’s Dr Mike Crawford (Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist), Jacob King (Academic Clinical Fellow) and Richard Watt (Director of Research, Development and Innovation), alongside colleagues from Imperial College, University College and University of London. 

The study recruited participants aged 18 and over, who self-identified as being anxious about Covid-19.

Those with high levels of anxiety were then invited to participate in a six-month trial of remotely delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Health Anxiety. 

Participants were also sent a self-help booklet developed by CNWL, giving general advice on mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

FACE COVID: How to respond effectively to the Corona crisis

The study was designed to identify behaviours that could maintain their anxiety, such as searching the internet for information about Covid and its consequences, watching the news, remaining at home and monitoring bodily symptoms.

The results found that the interventions helped to reduce levels of anxiety and improve mental health over time, noting the reductions were greater among people who were younger. 

However, the conclusion reads:

“While the mental health of people with severe COVID anxiety appears to improve over time, many continue to experience high levels of anxiety and poor social functioning. Health anxiety is highly prevalent among people with severe COVID anxiety and may provide a target for psychological treatment."

Results also highlighted the importance of social factors, such as whether someone was living with a person who was vulnerable to the effects of COVID.

The paper is published and available to read in BMC Psychiatry: Severe COVID anxiety among adults in the United Kingdom: cohort study and nested feasibility trial





Image: Luciann Photography