Background: The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted health systems across the world and led to major shifts in individual behavior by forcing people into isolation in home settings. Its rapid spread has overwhelmed populations in all corners of Latin-American countries resulting in individual psychological reactions that may aggravate the health crisis. This study reports on demographics, self-reported psychological disturbances and associated coping styles during the COVID-19 pandemic for the Peruvian population. Methods: This cross-sectional study uses an online survey with snowball sampling that was conducted after the state of emergency was declared in Perú (on April 2nd). The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) was used to identify somatic symptoms, incidence of anxiety/ insomnia, social dysfunction and depression and the Coping Strategy Questionnaire (COPE-28) mapped personal strategies to address recent stress. Results: 434 self-selected participants ranging in age from 18 to 68 years old (Mean age = 33.87) completed the survey. The majority of participants were women (61.30%), aged between 18 and 28 (41.70%), well-educated (> = 85.00%), Peruvian (94.20%), employed (57.40%) and single (71.20%). 40.8% reported psychological distress, expressing fear of coronavirus infection (71.43%). Regression analysis shows that men had lower somatic-related symptom (β = − 1.87, 95%, CI: − 2.75 to −.99) and anxiety/insomnia symptom (β = − 1.91, 95% CI: − 2.98 to 0.84) compared to women. The risk for depression and social dysfunction are less likely with increasing age. Educational status was protective against developing psychological conditions (p < 0.05). While active responses (acceptance and social support) are scarcely used by individuals with psychological distress; passive strategies (such as denial, self-distraction, self-blame, disconnection, and venting) are more commonly reported. Conclusion: This study provides a better understanding of the psychological health impact occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic on the Peruvian population. About half of the respondents reported psychological distress and poor coping responses. This evidence informs the need for broader promotional health policies focused on strengthening individual’s active strategies aiming at improving emotional health and preventing psychiatric conditions, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
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