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Depression, worry, and loneliness are associated with subsequent risk of hospitalization for COVID-19: a prospective study.

Wang S, Quan L, Ding M, Kang JH, Koenen KC, Kubzansky LD, Branch-Elliman W, Chavarro JE, Roberts AL. Depression, worry, and loneliness are associated with subsequent risk of hospitalization for COVID-19: a prospective study. Psychological medicine. 2022 May 19; 1-10.

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BACKGROUND: Pre-pandemic psychological distress is associated with increased susceptibility to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, but associations with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity are not established. The authors examined the associations between distress prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection and subsequent risk of hospitalization. METHODS: Between April 2020 (baseline) and April 2021, we followed 54 781 participants from three ongoing cohorts: Nurses'' Health Study II (NHSII), Nurses'' Health Study 3 (NHS3), and the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) who reported no current or prior SARS-CoV-2 infection at baseline. Chronic depression was assessed during 2010-2019. Depression, anxiety, worry about COVID-19, perceived stress, and loneliness were measured at baseline. SARS-CoV-2 infection and hospitalization due to COVID-19 was self-reported. Relative risks (RRs) were calculated by Poisson regression. RESULTS: 3663 participants reported a positive SARS-CoV-2 test (mean age = 55.0 years, standard deviation = 13.8) during follow-up. Among these participants, chronic depression prior to the pandemic [RR = 1.72; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.20-2.46], and probable depression (RR = 1.81, 95% CI 1.08-3.03), being very worried about COVID-19 (RR = 1.79; 95% CI 1.12-2.86), and loneliness (RR = 1.81, 95% CI 1.02-3.20) reported at baseline were each associated with subsequent COVID-19 hospitalization, adjusting for demographic factors and healthcare worker status. Anxiety and perceived stress were not associated with hospitalization. Depression, worry about COVID-19, and loneliness were as strongly associated with hospitalization as were high cholesterol and hypertension, established risk factors for COVID-19 severity. CONCLUSIONS: Psychological distress may be a risk factor for hospitalization in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Assessment of psychological distress may identify patients at greater risk of hospitalization. Future work should examine whether addressing distress improves physical health outcomes.

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