About the project
2020 will be remembered as the year when our society was shaken by the outbreak of the coronavirus and COVID-19 illness. In order to protect the most vulnerable and to control further spread of the virus, our leaders in government and the Ministry of Health encouraged us to take collective action and follow specific rules for public hygiene. Quite suddenly, our social interactions, studies, work, and everyday routines were drastically affected. While crises may elicit a coping spirit, creativity and feelings of solidarity, they may also contribute to psychological and mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, our knowledge of how a pandemic such as COVID-19 can affect mental health is limited.
What is the purpose of the project?
Everyone is affected in some manner by the outbreak. We assume that while some people will probably cope rather well, others may struggle with loneliness, anxiety or other mental health problems. We want to investigate how people are coping with the current situation. In addition to examining both the short-term and long-term effects related to mental health, we recognize the importance of identifying which factors can predict the development of mental disorders at a later date. Finally, we would like to understand how different people cope differently.
Who can participate?
Adults over the age of 18 and residing in Norway.
Does the study have ethical approval?
The project has been examined and approved by the local ethical committee REK-Nord (REK Nord 123324, March, 2020). The data from all participants will be handled with strict confidentiality according to the private information care guidelines from the University of Bergen, the Regional Ethical Committee and Norwegian GDPR. A copy of the informed consent can be found below.
How long does the survey take?
It usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes to answer. We have incorporated questions specific to the current situation as well as standardised and well-established questionnaires.
If you are a student you will also be asked to answer questions about your academic situation.
If you work in the healthcare sector, you will be asked to answer specific questions related to your working situation.
Why do we contact you?
We have used several channels of recruitment. Many institutions such as high schools, universities or healthcare authorities are helping to spread our surveys by sending emails directly to their students, members or employees.
We are also contacting participants via social media and general media outlets.
Copy of the informed consent
The purpose of the project and why you are being asked to participate:
2020 will be marked as the year in which our society was hit by the biggest virus epidemic we have faced in the 21st century. Unprecedented measures have been put in place to protect our society, especially the most vulnerable among us. Due to these social distancing measures, our day-to-day lives have changed practically overnight.
Our entire society is affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, nevertheless, we believe that there will be a wide spectrum of experiences. For some, the outbreak has had few or no negative consequences, while for others this outbreak has been very challenging.
This is a request for you to participate in a research project to find out how the outbreak of the coronavirus affects the potential development of mental disorders in adults (18 years and older). We aim to investigate both short-term and long-term effects related to mental health as well as determine which factors may predict the development of mental disorders in the future.
What does the project mean for you?
We will ask you to answer some questions about how you experienced the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and how it has affected you and your everyday life. Several of the questions pertain to your physical and mental health. It will take about 15 minutes to answer these questions.
We would like to register your contact details (e-mail address).
- You will not be contacted for personal information
- You will be contacted for participation in follow-up studies
If you need help or someone to talk to, you may find information about help lines on our webside (www.uib.no/en/takecare2020/134893/frequently-asked-questions).
Further information and consent can be found below.
Possible advantages and disadvantages
By participating, you will be asked to think about your own coping strategies, your level of anxiety, as well as their positive and negative effects. The project will also help to understand the impact of the outbreak on the risk and resilience associated with mental disorders. Your response to the different questions will therefor provide useful information for similar situations in the future.
Your participation is voluntary, and you have the right to withdraw from the study
Participation in the project is voluntary. If you would like to participate, please press the consent button below. You can withdraw your consent at any time, and without having to give a reason. There will be no negative consequences for you if you do not want to participate or choose later to withdraw. If you do withdraw from the project, your data will be deleted and will not be included in further analyses. Your data will however remain in analyses already performed or included in scientific publications. If you wish to withdraw or have questions about the project, you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Kristen.Hagen@helse-bergen.no
What happens to the information you give us?
The information recorded about you will only be used as described under the purpose of the project. You have the right to access the information that is registered about you, and the right to correct any errors in the information that is registered.
All analyses will be processed without email or other directly identifiable information. If you consent to be recontacted, a code links your e.mail address and study code to your answers through a coded list. Only Stephanie Le Hellard and Kristen Hagen have access to this list. This temporary list of contact information will only be used for follow-up during the study and will not be shared. All information will be saved on the University of Bergens server for sensitive data (SAFE).
Your information will be kept for five years after the end of the project for control purposes (e.g. your right to withdraw).
The Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics has conducted a research ethics review and approved the project [REK: 2020/123324].
The University of Bergen and project manager Stephanie Le Hellard are responsible for the privacy aspects of the project.
We process the information based on your consent.
If you have any questions about the privacy of the project, you can contact the Privacy Ombudsman at the University of Bergen: email@example.com.
Protocol for data collection
Spring 2020- The first questionaire was sent in the period March-May, 2020 to capture the first reaction.
Summer 2020- The second questionnaire will be sent to those who have agreed to be contacted again. The questionnaire will have similar questions, although new ones will be added while others won't be repeated.
2021 and 2022- After the main outbreak, we will follow up participants for approximately two years to ask them about long term effects on mental health and coping.
We know that both predisposition to mental disorders and resilience have biological mechanisms. We are planning to ask a sample of 15,000 participants to participate in a biobank for the identification of these biological factors.
National and international collaboration
A pandemic is by nature international. We are involved in several international studies that are looking at similar questions in samples across Nordic countries, Europe and worldwide.
If you are interested in collaborating with us, we welcome your contact.