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Psychological Distress and Loneliness Reported by US Adults in 2018 and April 2020

Educational Objective
To understand the psychological distress and loneliness reported by US Adults in 2018 and April 2020
1 Credit CME

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) introduced stressors to mental health, including loneliness stemming from social isolation, fear of contracting the disease, economic strain, and uncertainty about the future. We fielded a national survey measuring symptoms of psychological distress and loneliness among US adults in April 2020 and compared results with national data from 2018.

We fielded the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Civic Life and Public Health Survey from April 7 to April 13, 2020, using NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel. AmeriSpeak is a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US adult population. The panel is sourced from NORC’s area probability sample and from a US Postal Service address–based sample covering 97% of US households.1 The panel has a recruitment rate of 34% and includes approximately 35 000 members. The sample for the Johns Hopkins survey was drawn from this panel and the survey was administered online. NORC obtains informed consent prior to enrolling individuals in the panel. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health institutional review board deemed this study not human participants research and waived informed consent.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Emma E. McGinty, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N Broadway, Room 359, Baltimore, MD 21205 (bmcginty@jhu.edu).

Accepted for Publication: May 19, 2020.

Published Online: June 3, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.9740

Author Contributions: Dr McGinty had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: McGinty, Han, Barry.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: McGinty.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: McGinty, Presskreischer.

Obtained funding: McGinty, Han, Barry.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Barry.

Supervision: McGinty, Han, Barry.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Funding/Support: Dr McGinty reported receiving a Faculty Innovation Award from Johns Hopkins University. Dr Han reported receiving a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr Barry reported receiving endowment funds from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

References
1.
Dennis  JM .  Technical Overview of the AmeriSpeak Panel NORC’s Probability-Based Household Panel. NORC at the University of Chicago; 2019.
2.
Kessler  RC , Barker  PR , Colpe  LJ ,  et al.  Screening for serious mental illness in the general population.   Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(2):184-189. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.60.2.184PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics: data, questionnaires, and related documentation. Accessed May 13, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/data-questionnaires-documentation.htm
4.
Lai  J , Ma  S , Wang  Y ,  et al.  Factors associated with mental health outcomes among health care workers exposed to coronavirus disease 2019.   JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(3):e203976-e.Google Scholar
5.
Kaiser Family Foundation; The Economist. Survey on Loneliness and Social Isolation in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Published 2018. Accessed May 13, 2020. http://files.kff.org/attachment/Topline-Kaiser-Family-Foundation-The-Economist-Survey-on-Loneliness-and-Social-Isolation-in-the-United-States-the-United-Kingdom-and-Japan
6.
American Association for Public Opinion Research. Report on online panels. Published June 2010. Accessed May 14, 2020. https://www.aapor.org/Education-Resources/Reports/Report-on-Online-Panels.aspx
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