To conduct a pilot study on the lived experiences of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on affected people.
This mixed methods study used random and snowball techniques to recruit 91 respondents (age range 18–58 years) from 14 countries. Accessing patients with COVID-19 was restricted because of the nature of the disease and the treatment they were receiving which limited their access to being selected for our pilot study. Therefore, our respondents were members of the general population who were directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic. Respondents completed online surveys consisting of the Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) and open-ended questions. Collected data were subjected to IBM SPSS statistics software (v. 22.0) and thematic analysis.
Both quantitative and qualitative instruments reported very high feasibility, which is suggestive of an excellent feasibility of our mixed methods design. Second, we identified financial and time resources as major barriers to the recruitment process, and how to avert these in the main study was discussed. Third, COVID-19 pandemic had more anxious than depressive impacts on our respondents. We also found that more than half (58, 63.7%) of the total respondents showed high knowledge level of COVID-19, and the major sources from which they gained knowledge were television, radio, and online academic papers. Our qualitative insight showed five themes from the lived experiences of respondents from the COVID-19 pandemic. These themes were; changes in lifestyles, disruption of schooling activities, impact on options for health services, disruption of works and economy, and anxious and worrisome impacts, in that order.
Main study is feasible with minor addition required on our protocol. Given other findings, we recommend the need for adaptive coping skill training, and appropriate information sharing during pandemics. There is also the need for psychosocial preparation due to the uncertainty of pandemics. In addition, averting the likely adverse economic impacts from pandemics should be of concern to governments and other stakeholders during pandemics. Finally, we recommend that governments and other stakeholders should be cautious about the likelihood of limited health service options for the general public during pandemics.