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Psychological impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on individuals living with multiple sclerosis: A rapid systematic review


Zarghami, A and Hussain, MA and Campbell, JA and Ezegbe, C and van der Mei, I and Taylor, BVM and Claflin, SB, Psychological impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on individuals living with multiple sclerosis: A rapid systematic review, Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, 59, (103562) pp. 3-14. ISSN 2211-0356 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.msard.2022.103562


Introduction: The global spread of COVID-19 has raised concerns about its possible impact on mental health. People living with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) are considered potentially vulnerable to the mental health effects of the pandemic, as they may be subject to increased social isolation.

Aim: To systematically review the current evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health outcomes among PwMS.

Method: We searched four major databases (Medline, EMBASE, PsychInfo and Scopus) and the WHO Global Health COVID-19 research database. We included peer-reviewed primary research studies using validated health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and psychometric screening tools to evaluate mental health outcomes among PwMS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies reporting data on the prevalence of mental health disorders, severity of psychological symptoms and contributing demographic and clinical factors for PwMS during the COVID-19 pandemic were included.

Results: Our initial search yielded 268 records; 19 studies (13 cross-sectional, 6 longitudinal) were included. Most were conducted during a peak in the pandemic in the host country via an online platform. The main mental health outcomes were depression, anxiety, stress, sleep quality and HRQOL. The included studies used a variety of outcome assessment tools and study designs. The prevalence of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and stress were high among PwMS during the pandemic. In addition, compared to control populations, PwMS experienced more severe symptoms of depression and stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, results from longitudinal studies demonstrate that the severity of mental health symptoms among PwMS during the pandemic were not significantly different compared with the pre-pandemic period.

Conclusion: Although mental health issues such as anxiety and depression were common among PwMS during the pandemic, current evidence suggests that mental health among PwMS has not been significantly affected by pandemic-related restrictive measures. Instead, the observed differences may be the result of pre-pandemic differences in prevalence and severity. Where possible, future studies should seek to address the methodological issues identified in the included studies to ensure that data collected during the pandemic can be synthesized into recommendations for policy and practice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:anxiety, COVID-19, depression, mental health, multiple sclerosis, quality of life
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Epidemiology
Research Field:Epidemiology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Zarghami, A (Mr Amin Zarghami)
UTAS Author:Hussain, MA (Dr Akhtar Hussain)
UTAS Author:Campbell, JA (Dr Julie Campbell)
UTAS Author:Ezegbe, C (Dr Vincent Ezegbe)
UTAS Author:van der Mei, I (Professor Ingrid van der Mei)
UTAS Author:Taylor, BVM (Professor Bruce Taylor)
UTAS Author:Claflin, SB (Dr Suzi Claflin)
ID Code:149362
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2022-03-28
Last Modified:2022-09-20

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