The impact of COVID-19 on a cohort of patients treated with clozapine.
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JournalIrish journal of psychological medicine
AbstractObjectives: To examine the psychological and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions on a cohort of patients with severe and enduring mental illness treated with clozapine. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 63 individuals attending a clozapine clinic within the Galway-Roscommon Mental Health Services to determine the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on anxiety and depressive symptoms, social and occupational functioning and quality of life, by utilising Likert scale data. The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) were additionally utilised to measure anxiety symptoms cross-sectionally. Results: Anxiety symptoms were low with a median BAI score of 4.0 and HAM-A score of 4.0. Likert scale measurements recorded only a modest adverse impact of COVID-19 restrictions on anxiety and depressive symptoms, quality of life and occupational and social functioning. Free-text comments from patients (n = 55), were grouped into five themes: neutral impact (n = 22), negative psychological impact (n = 13), negative social impact (n = 11), positive psychological impact (n = 5) and media coverage inducing anxiety (n = 4). Conclusions: Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions, the impact on individuals with treatment-resistant psychotic disorders attending a clozapine clinic has been modest, with preliminary evidence demonstrating minimal increases in subjective symptoms of anxiety and reduced social functioning. Reduced social engagements and supports attainable both within the community and from mental health services were noted by some participants.