The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact on daily life around the globe. It will not come as a surprise when people who are exposed to an increased risk of illness and death experience more feelings of anxiety and depression. However, the consequences of this pandemic run much deeper. In most countries, the government has set up containment measures which have drastically changed our daily lives (i.e., working from home, home schooling children and general social distancing). There are also numerous economic consequences that have a major impact on many people’s lives. People with pre-existing psychiatric conditions are at increased risk for all these negative consequences.

Researchers from the north of the Netherlands have designed a project to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the patients of the University Centre for Psychiatry (UCP, part of the University Medical Centre Groningen). All patients of the UCP were invited to participate in weekly questionnaires that contain items on corona-related wellbeing, news consumption, measures taken (e.g. washing hands, social distancing), loneliness and coping with the current situation. Monthly questionnaires include more questions detailed related to depression, anxiety, and social functioning.

To reduce the burden on patients and enhance the comparability of the data, the researchers have chosen questionnaires are already used within the UCP for routine measurements of outcomes in clinical care. In addition, most of the COVID-related items are taken from the questionnaires sent to the participants in Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) and Lifelines cohort studies.

The questionnaires are designed to be of dual use. First, they will be used to improve treatment by helping treatment professionals detect COVID-related difficulties. For optimal research value, the investigators aim to use the combined sample including NESDA and Lifelines participants to investigate in which ways the COVID-19 pandemic and the Dutch containment measures influence the wellbeing and functioning in psychiatric patients, compared to healthy controls. They will also investigate the role of healthy coping behaviors in the ability of psychiatric patients to deal with the pandemic.