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Increase in Depression and Anxiety Among Australian Gay and Bisexual Men During COVID-19 Restrictions: Findings from a Prospective Online Cohort Study

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posted on 2022-09-16, 01:30 authored by BR Bavinton, C Chan, MA Hammoud, L Maher, B Haire, L Degenhardt, M Holt, Toby LeaToby Lea, N Bath, D Storer, F Jin, AE Grulich, Adam BourneAdam Bourne, P Saxton, Garrett PrestageGarrett Prestage
We examined depression and anxiety prior to and during COVID-19 restrictions in Australian gay and bisexual men (GBM). In an online cohort, a COVID-19-focused survey was conducted in April 2020. During 2019 and in April 2020, 664 GBM completed the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9, measuring depression) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7, measuring anxiety). Increased depression and anxiety were defined as a ≥ 5 point increase on the respective scales. Mean PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores increased between 2019 and 2020 (PHQ-9: from 5.11 in 2019 to 6.55 in 2020; GAD-7: from 3.80 in 2019 to 4.95 in 2020). The proportion of participants with moderate-severe depression (PHQ-9 ≥ 10) increased from 18.8% (n = 125) to 25.5% (n = 169), while the proportion of participants with moderate-severe anxiety (GAD-7 ≥ 10) increased from 12.7% (n = 84) to 17.3% (n = 115). Almost one-quarter of participants (n = 158, 23.8%) had increased depression; in these men, mean PHQ-9 increased from 2.49 in 2019 to 11.65 in 2020 (p < 0.001). One-in-five (20.6%) participants (n = 137) had increased anxiety; among these men, mean GAD-7 increased from 2.05 in 2019 to 10.22 in 2020 (p < 0.001). Increases were associated with concerns about job security, reduction in social and sexual connections and opportunities, and being personally concerned about COVID-19 itself. COVID-19 appeared to have a sudden and pronounced impact on depression and anxiety in Australian GBM, with a significant minority showing sharp increases. Ongoing monitoring is required to determine longer-term impacts and GBM need access to appropriate and sensitive supports both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its Member Institutions. This study was funded by the New South Wales Ministry of Health, via the Prevention Research Support Program and NSW Research Program for HIV, STIs and Viral Hepatitis (2017-2021), and Australian Research Council (2014-2018). In 2018, Flux was partly funded by the Gilead Australia Fellowship Research Grants Program.


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Archives of Sexual Behavior: an interdisciplinary research journal






10p. (p. 355-364)


Springer Nature



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