Survey to track long-term mental, brain health impacts of COVID-19

Monash University researchers have launched a three-year, international study to understand the mental health and cognitive effects of COVID-19 on people diagnosed with the virus, and the general community dealing with the pandemic.

Associate Professor Kate Hoy, the Head of Interventional Neuropsychology at Monash University and Deputy Director of the Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, said the pandemic was an “unprecedented international medical and social emergency with widespread consequences on all groups of society”.

“It is having direct effects on those who contract the virus and their families, as well as major impacts on all the population through the necessity for significant behavioural change as well as changes in employment and other economic hardships,” she said.

“Given significant evidence for stress and/or illness to alter cognition and mental health, as well as evidence of the psychological impact of pandemics in recent times including SARS, it is anticipated that COVID-19 will have significant consequences, both immediate and over time.”

The research team is aiming to recruit up to 1,000 people to the survey, including COVID-19 patients and the general community, and they will be followed up over three years.

Associate Professor Hoy said the project would explore the mental health and cognitive outcomes of both direct COVID-19 infection and the impact of pandemic-related experiences in the general community.

“The outcomes have a number of potential implications. This work will provide us with critical information regarding the supports/treatments people may need in the aftermath of the pandemic, as well as data on how best to support people in the instance of a similar event in the future,” she said.

“It will also generate information that is essential for understanding the possible long-term health outcomes of COVID-19 patients, for epidemiologists, public health experts, and leaders in future planning, as well as the general public in raising awareness for managing risk during catastrophes and epidemics.”

To learn more about the survey and register, visit: tiny.cc/0l5tnz