Research examining psychological well-being associated with COVID-19 in rural/regional Australia is limited. This study aimed to assess the extent of psychological distress, fear of COVID-19, and coping strategies among the attendees in COVID-19 screening clinics at 2 rural Victorian settings.
RA cross-sectional study was conducted during July 2020 to February 2021 inclusive. Participants were invited to fill in an online questionnaire. Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K-10), Fear of COVID-19 Scale, and Brief Resilient Coping Scale were used to assess psychological distress, fear of COVID-19, and coping, respectively.
Among 702 total participants, 69% were females and mean age (±SD) was 49 (±15.8) years. One in 5 participants (156, 22%) experienced high to very high psychological distress, 1 in 10 (72, 10%) experienced high fear, and more than half (397, 57%) had medium to high resilient coping. Participants with mental health issues had higher distress (AOR 10.4, 95% CI: 6.25-17.2) and fear (2.56, 1.41-4.66). Higher distress was also associated with having comorbidities, increased smoking (5.71, 1.04-31.4), and alcohol drinking (2.03, 1.21-3.40). Higher fear was associated with negative financial impact, drinking alcohol (2.15, 1.06-4.37), and increased alcohol drinking. Medium to high resilient coping was associated with being ≥60 years old (1.84, 1.04-3.24) and completing Bachelor and above levels of education.
People who had pre-existing mental health issues, comorbidities, smoked, and consumed alcohol were identified as high-risk groups for poorer psychological well-being in rural/regional Victoria. Specific interventions to support the mental well-being of these vulnerable populations, along with engaging health care providers, should be considered.