COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019

Impact of COVID-19 epidemic and quarantine on mental health and addictive behaviors in the community – a study nested in the TEMPO cohort – TEMPO-COVID-19

Submission summary

The occurrence of an infectious disease epidemic, such as the one caused by the Covid-19 virus can be a source not only of morbidity and mortality, but also considerable disruptions in people's lives, causing psychological, social and economic damage. In terms of mental health, research based on recent epidemics (e.g.Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - SARS - virus, Ebola), has shown that among individuals affected by the outbreak, levels of anxiety, depression as well as psychological trauma are elevated in the short and mid-terms. There is also suggestion of an elevated risk of alcohol abuse or dependence in the following months. It is important to note that past research on the psychological consequences of epidemics was based on infectious disease spreads which were concentrated in specific geographic areas, and quarantine measures, when applied, concerned specific groups (e.g. persons who developed the disease, healthcare workers in contact with cases) and were documented to last at most 3 weeks. Moreover, with important exceptions, most past studies were cross-sectional or qualitative, and the role of preexisting psychological difficulties and addictive behaviors, have not been fully explored. In the case of the present outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, populations of several countries including France were quarantined for preventive purposes when the number of cases of disease in the population was relatively low, implying that most persons had no direct contact with someone who fell ill, and for a duration which is yet unknown. Under these circumstances, the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and of the quarantine of entire populations, likely to last several weeks, on the mental health and addictive behaviors of individuals is unknown. In particular, while prior studies suggest that young adults may be especially vulnerable to the psychological consequences of a quarantine, the role of family composition and the presence of young children have not been thoroughly examined. The aims of the TEMPO-COVID-19 project are to study the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak and population quarantine on mental health and addictive behaviors (tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other illegal drug use), taking into account changes in occupational and financial circumstances and preexisting mental health and substance use patterns. Starting on March 23, 2020, participants of the TEMPO cohort, a community-based study which started in 2009 among young adults who previously participated in a study on children’s psychological well-being, will be invited to complete weekly online questionaires for the duration of the quarantine and an additional questionnaire approximately one year late. These questionnaires were made comparable to those of similar studies in other European countries and of a study conducted among participants of multiple epidemiological cohort studies in France which will include fewer measurements. The advantages of the TEMPO cohort are that a) participants' mental health and use of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis as well as other illegal drugs have been ascertained repeatedly over 10 years; b) 1200 participants provided their email address, which previously served for online surveys, making rapid contact feasible; c) participants live throughout France and are aged 26 to 45 years, that is an age when many individuals experience high levels of psychological distress and addictive behaviors, and are faced with multiple familial and professional resposibilities which may make them particularly vulnerable to the psychological effects of a quarantine. ata will be analyzed using statistical models well-suited for longitudinal data analyses (group-based trajectory modeling, generalized estimation equations). The findings will serve to test the specific role of the COVID-19 epidemic and related quarantine with regard to mental health and addictive behaviors, and help identify sub-groups that may be especially vulnerable in this domain.

Project coordination

Maria Melchior (Institut Pierre Louis d'Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IPLESP Institut Pierre Louis d'Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique

Help of the ANR 37,422 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2020 - 18 Months

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