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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Comparison of the Indicators of Psychological Stress in the Population of Hubei Province and Non-Endemic Provinces in China During Two Weeks During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in February 2020

Shuai Yuan, Zhenxin Liao, Haojie Huang, Boyue Jiang, Xueyan Zhang, Yingwen Wang, Mingyi Zhao

Department of Pediatrics, The Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e923767

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.923767

Available online: 2020-03-17

Published: 2020-04-15

BACKGROUND: During February 2020, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic in Hubei Province, China, was at its height, requiring isolation of the population. This study aimed to compare the emotional state, somatic responses, sleep quality, and behavior of people in Hubei Province with non-endemic provinces in China during two weeks in February 2020. 
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Questionnaires were completed by 939 individuals (357 men; 582 women), including 33 from Hubei and 906 from non-endemic provinces. The Stress Response Questionnaire (SRQ) determined the emotional state, somatic responses, and behavior. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to measure the duration of sleep and sleep quality.
RESULTS: There were 939 study participants, aged 18-24 years (35.89%) and 25-39 years (35.57%); 65.92% were university students. During a two week period in February 2020, the emotional state and behavior of participants in Hubei improved, but the quality of sleep did not. Health workers and business people became increasingly anxious, but other professionals became less anxious. The data showed that most people in Hubei Province developed a more positive attitude regarding their risk of infection and the chances of surviving the COVID-19 epidemic.
CONCLUSIONS: During a two-week period, front-line health workers and people in Hubei Province became less anxious about the COVID-19 epidemic, but sleep quality did not improve. Despite public awareness, levels of anxiety exist that affect the quality of life during epidemics, including periods of population quarantine. Therefore, health education should be combined with psychological counseling for vulnerable individuals.

Keywords: Comparative Study, Mental Health, Stress, Psychological