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Publication Detail
Longitudinal changes in home confinement and mental health implications: A 17-month follow-up study in England during the COVID-19 pandemic
Abstract

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant behavioural changes, one of which is increased time spent at home. Although official lockdowns were typically short-term and allowed people to leave their homes for exercise and essential activities, some individuals did not leave their home for prolonged periods due to a range of factors including clinical vulnerability. This study aimed to explore longitudinal patterns of such ‘home confinement’ across different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, and its associated predictors and mental health outcomes.

Methods

Data were from the UCL COVID -19 Social Study. The analytical sample consisted of 25,390 adults in England who were followed up for 17 months from March 2020 to July 2021. Data were analysed using growth mixture models.

Results

Our analyses identified three classes of growth trajectories, including one class showing a high level of persistent home confinement (24.8%), one changing class with clear alignment with national containment policy/advice (32.0%), and one class with a persistently low level of confinement (43.1%). A range of factors were found to be associated the class membership of home confinement trajectories, such as age, gender, income, employment status, social relationships and health. The class with a high level of confinement had the highest number of depressive and anxiety symptoms at the end of the follow-up independent of potential confounders.

Conclusions

There was substantial heterogeneity in longitudinal patterns of home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a striking proportion of our sample maintained a high level of home confinement over the course of 17 months, even during periods when containment measures were eased or removed and when infection rates were low. They also had the worst mental health outcomes. This group warrants special attention in addressing the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Behavioural Science and Health
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Behavioural Science and Health
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