Risk and protective factors for new-onset binge eating, low weight, and self-harm symptoms in >35,000 individuals in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 425 words

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Keywords: comorbidity; eating disorders; mental health; psychiatric disorders; suicidal ideation Abstract Objective The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with poor mental health, including increases in eating disorders and self-harm symptoms. We investigated risk and protective factors for the new onset of these symptoms during the pandemic. Method Data were from the COVID-19 Psychiatry and Neurological Genetics study and the Repeated Assessment of Mental health in Pandemics Study (n =36,715). Exposures were socio-demographic characteristics, lifetime psychiatric disorder, and COVID-related variables, including SARS-CoV-2 infection/illness with COVID-19. We identified four subsamples of participants without pre-pandemic experience of our outcomes: binge eating (n =24,211), low weight (n =24,364), suicidal and/or self-harm ideation (n =18,040), and self-harm (n =29,948). Participants reported on our outcomes at frequent intervals (fortnightly to monthly). We fitted multiple logistic regression models to identify factors associated with the new onset of our outcomes. Results Within each subsample, new onset was reported by: 21% for binge eating, 10.8% for low weight, 23.5% for suicidal and/or self-harm ideation, and 3.5% for self-harm. Shared risk factors included having a lifetime psychiatric disorder, not being in paid employment, higher pandemic worry scores, and being racially minoritized. Conversely, infection with SARS-CoV-2/illness with COVID-19 was linked to lower odds of binge eating, low weight, and suicidal and/or self-harm ideation. Discussion Overall, we detected shared risk factors that may drive the comorbidity between eating disorders and self-harm. Subgroups of individuals with these risk factors may require more frequent monitoring during future pandemics. Public Significance In a sample of 35,000 UK residents, people who had a psychiatric disorder, identified as being part of a racially minoritized group, were not in paid employment, or were more worried about the pandemic were more likely to experience binge eating, low weight, suicidal and/or self-harm ideation, and self-harm for the first time during the pandemic. People with these risk factors may need particular attention during future pandemics to enable early identification of new psychiatric symptoms. Article Note: Action Editor: Ruth Striegel Weissman Funding information Economic and Social Research Council; HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency, Grant/Award Number: COM/5516/18; King's International Postgraduate Research Scholarship; Lord Leverhulme Charitable Grant; Lundbeckfonden, Grant/Award Number: R276-2018-4581; Medical Research Council UK, Grant/Award Number: MR/T027843/1; MQ: Transforming Mental Health, Grant/Award Number: MQF20/24; MRC Mental Health Data Pathfinder Award, Grant/Award Number: MC_PC_17,217; National Institute for Health and Care Research, Grant/Award Numbers: RG85445, RG94028; NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Grant/Award Number: IS-BRC-1215-20018 CAPTION(S): Appendix S1: Supporting Information Appendix S2: Supporting Information Appendix S3: Supporting Information

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A734208339