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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
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Bu F, Steptoe A, Fancourt D
  • Publisher:
    Cambridge University Press (CUP)
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    1, 9
  • Journal:
    Psychological Medicine
  • Medium:
  • Status:
  • Country:
  • PII:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Anxiety, COVID-19, depression, growth mixture model, isolation, panel data
  • Notes:
    This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has brought about significant behavioural changes, one of which is increased time spent at home. This could have important public health implications. This study aimed to explore longitudinal patterns of 'home confinement' (defined as not leaving the house/garden) during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 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 (March 2020-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 (the home-confined, 24.8%), one changing class with clear alignment with national containment measures (the adaptive, 32.0%), and one class with a persistently low level of confinement (the unconfined, 43.1%). A range of factors were associated with the class membership of home-confinement trajectories, such as age, gender, income, employment status, social relationships and health. The home-confined class had the highest number of depressive (diff = 1.34-1.68, p < 0.001) and anxiety symptoms (diff = 0.84-1.05, p < 0.001) at the end of the follow-up than the other two classes. CONCLUSIONS: There was substantial heterogeneity in longitudinal patterns of home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. People with a persistent high level of confinement had the worst mental health outcomes, calling for special attention in mental health action plans, in particular targeted interventions for at-risk groups.
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