Differences in mental health problems, coping self-efficacy and social support between adults victimised before and adults victimised after the COVID-19 outbreak : population-based prospective study

Background Victims of violence, accidents and threats are at risk for mental health problems. Lower coping self-efficacy and social support levels increase this risk. Although highly relevant, it is unknown if the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic amplifies these risks.


Aims To examine if the prevalence, incidence and/or mean scores for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression symptoms, general mental health problems, coping self-efficacy, lack of emotional support and social acknowledgement are higher among adults victimised in the year after the COVID-19 outbreak compared with adults victimised in a similar period before the outbreak. Also, to compare symptoms, problems and support within non-victims during the same period.


Method Data was extracted from four surveys of the VICTIMS study (March 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021), based on a random sample of the Dutch population. Multivariate logistic regression analyses and mixed-effects models were used to examine differences between the two victim groups (2019: n = 421, 2021: n = 319) and non-victims (n = 3245).


Results Adults victimised after the outbreak more often had PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms, general mental health problems and lower coping self-efficacy than those victimised before. They did not differ in lack of support and acknowledgement. Both victim groups differed from non-victims, where mental health problems and lack of support levels were much lower and almost stable.


Conclusions The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the mental health and coping self-efficacy levels of victims, whereas mental health problems among non-victims remained virtually stable. Mental healthcare workers, general practitioners and victim services should take this impact into account.

Peter G. van der Velden, Carlo Contino, Marcel Das, Joost Leenen and Lutz Wittmann | 2022
In: British Journal of Psychiatry ; ISSN: 0007-1250 | 220 | 5 | 265-271
Adaptability, Anxiety Disorders, Coping Behavior, COVID-19 (en), Depressive Disorders, Emotional States, Epidemics, Epidemiology, Mental health, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Social Support, Statistical Analysis