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Minerva Psychiatry 2023 May 10

DOI: 10.23736/S2724-6612.22.02373-9


language: English

Serious psychological distress and coronavirus disease 2019 impact among population affected by relative poverty in Japan: an online cross-sectional study

Hitoshi MURAKAMI 1 , Miwa KANDA 1, Takahiro SAWAYANAGI 2

1 Bureau of International Health Cooperation, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Tokyo, Japan; 2 Plan International Japan, Tokyo, Japan

BACKGROUND: Despite the widely recognized association between poverty and serious psychological distress (SPD) under the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there has been no study of SPD and COVID-19 impacts focusing on the population affected by poverty in Japan. The present research aimed to estimate the prevalence of SPD among poverty-affected population and identify its characteristics and the COVID-19 impacts significantly associated with SPD.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional online survey with 1000 subjects affected by relative poverty. The level of psychological distress was measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6). We examined the association of various population characteristics and COVID-19 impacts with SPD using a multiple logistic regression model.
RESULTS: The prevalence of SPD among the population affected by relative poverty was 17.9%. Population characteristics significantly associated with SPD were: 1) mental illness; 2) early age (aged less than 40 years); 3) suburbs residency; 4) low social support; and 5) poor self-rated health. COVID-19 impacts that were significantly associated with SPD were: 1) 70-90% income loss; 2) shutdown cell phone connection; 3) reduced quality of meals; 4) increased stress due to telework; 5) maltreatment in the workplace due to gender identity; 6) deterioration of mental condition; and 7) above average fear of COVID-19.
CONCLUSIONS: To mitigate SPD under the COVID-19 pandemic among population affected by relative poverty, economic hardship, work-related stress, and direct mental/psychological impacts need to be alleviated.

KEY WORDS: COVID-19; Poverty; Psychological distress; Cross-sectional studies

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