Generational, sex, and socioeconomic inequalities in mental and social wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic: Prospective longitudinal observational study of five UK cohorts

Darío Moreno-Agostino*, Helen L. Fisher, Stephani L. Hatch, Craig Morgan, George B. Ploubidis, Jayati Das-Munshi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. Research suggests that there have been inequalities in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related non-pharmaceutical interventions on population mental health. We explored generational, sex, and socioeconomic inequalities during the first year of the pandemic using nationally representative cohorts from the UK.
Methods. We analysed data from 26,772 participants from five longitudinal cohorts representing generations born between 1946 and 2000, collected in May 2020, September-October 2020, and February-March 2021 across all five cohorts. We used a multilevel growth curve modelling approach to investigate generational, sex, and socioeconomic differences in levels of anxiety and depressive symptomatology, loneliness, and life satisfaction over time.
Results. Younger generations had worse levels of mental and social wellbeing throughout the first year of the pandemic. Whereas these generational inequalities narrowed between the first and last observation periods for life satisfaction (-0.33 [95% CI: -0.51, -0.15]), they became larger for anxiety (0.22 [0.10, 0.33]). Pre-existing generational inequalities in depression and loneliness did not change, but initial depression levels of the youngest cohort were worse than expected if the generational inequalities had not accelerated. Women and those experiencing financial difficulties had worse initial mental and social wellbeing levels than men and those financially living comfortably, respectively, and these gaps did not substantially differ between the first and last observation periods.
Conclusions. By March 2021, mental and social wellbeing inequalities persisted in the UK adult population. Pre-existing generational inequalities may have been exacerbated with the pandemic onset. Policies aimed at protecting vulnerable groups are needed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Early online date8 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2022

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Generational, sex, and socioeconomic inequalities in mental and social wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic: Prospective longitudinal observational study of five UK cohorts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this