Effective recommendations towards healthy routines to preserve mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic
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ObjectiveTo assess the adherence to a set of evidence-based recommendations to support mental health during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its association with depressive and anxiety symptoms.
MethodsA team of health workers and researchers prepared the recommendations, formatted into three volumes (1: COVID-19 prevention; 2: Healthy habits; 3: Biological clock and sleep). Participants were randomized to receive only Volume 1 (control), Volumes 1 and 2, Volumes 1 and 3, or all volumes. We used a convenience sample of Portuguese-speaking participants over age 18 years. An online survey consisting of sociodemographic and behavioral questionnaires and mental health instruments (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [PHQ-9] and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 [GAD-7]) was administered. At 14 and 28 days later, participants were invited to complete follow-up surveys, which also included questions regarding adherence to the recommendations. A total of 409 participants completed the study - mostly young adult women holding university degrees.
ResultsThe set of recommendations contained in Volumes 2 and 3 was effective in protecting mental health, as suggested by significant associations of adherence with PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores (reflecting anxiety and depression symptoms, respectively).
ConclusionThe recommendations developed in this study could be useful to prevent negative mental health effects in the context of the pandemic and beyond.
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