Where You Live Affects Your Level of Quarantine Stress

Italians are the loneliest and Germans are the least worried about finances.

Posted May 18, 2020

COVID-19 lockdown policies have affected the mental health of people worldwide to varying degrees, but most respondents in a recent survey reported at least some level of stress related to quarantine.

Italians reported the biggest increase in anxiety and loneliness, while those in the UK worried about their healthcare system being overwhelmed.

What worried people the least? Germans were the least concerned about finances and the French were the least concerned about taking care of their grandparents.

People in the United States have a unique concern—filling prescriptions. They also report declining health more than other countries.

The survey, from digital therapeutics company Kaia Health, queried people around the world about their personal experiences in quarantine. They took responses from multiple countries to determine how their experiences differ, but also what changes are being encountered in common. The questions focused on how spending more time at home had changed their daily habits, their concerns about life during the pandemic, their opinions about government responses to the crisis, and financial and emotional stress.

The results reveal a snapshot of the things we’re not talking about—the hidden ways COVID-19 quarantine is affecting the health and well-being of people around the globe.

The more isolated the individual, the higher the level of stress. Those in high isolation decreased their level of exercise, especially outdoor walks, and report a significant increase (51 percent) in social media use. More positively, they also were more likely to seek a creative outlet and to read more books, with a 40 percent increase in both.

But differences between countries demonstrate that, while we are all in this together to a degree, our experiences from country to country differ significantly.

For example:

•46 percent of respondents in Italy said that they felt "more lonely" in isolation.

•75 percent of respondents in the UK were concerned about their healthcare system being able to cope with the crisis and 58 percent have cancelled medical appointments.

•18 percent of respondents in the USA reported no access to medicines, more than double of any other country included, and reported the highest overall health decline at 46 percent.

•42 percent of German respondents were worried about personal finances, the lowest among countries included. They were also less worried about protecting the elderly, with only 21 percent listing that as an issue.

•French respondents were the least worried about their healthcare system being able to cope (34 percent) and experienced the lowest overall health decline while in isolation (12 percent).

•54 percent of respondents in high isolation reported a decrease in mental well-being but a 69 percent increase in communicating online.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS:

Respondents were asked to what degree they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

“I am worried that I will contract Covid-19.”

“I am worried that lifting restrictions put in place against the spread of Covid-19 will be lifted too early”

“In the past seven days, to what extent have you changed your habits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic”“I am worried that many companies are struggling financially.”

“I am worried that my healthcare system will not be able to adequately care for me or those close to me in the case of illness”

For more details on the survey and results: Initial Impacts of Covid-19 Quarantine on Health and Wellbeing.