BMC Public Health (Oct 2021)

Life in a time of COVID: a mixed method study of the changes in lifestyle, mental and psychosocial health during and after lockdown in Western Australians

  • Ranila Bhoyroo,
  • Paola Chivers,
  • Lynne Millar,
  • Caroline Bulsara,
  • Ben Piggott,
  • Michelle Lambert,
  • Jim Codde

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21, no. 1
pp. 1 – 16


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Abstract Background Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Australian government imposed multiple restrictions that impacted daily life activities and the social life. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of COVID-19 lockdown on the community’s physical, mental and psychosocial health. Methods Approximately 2 months after a three-month lockdown, a cross-sectional study was opened to Western Australian adults for an 8-week period (25th August – 21 October 2020). Participants competed a 25-min questionnaire adapted from the Western Australia Health and Wellbeing Surveillance system. Participants provided information on their socio-demographic status, lifestyle behaviours, mental health, and psychosocial health during and post-lockdown. Open-ended questions explored key issues in greater detail. Changes between the lockdown and post-lockdown period were assessed using Wilcoxon signed rank test and One-Sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov Normal tests as appropriate. Sex differences were examined using the Mann-Whitney U test. A content analysis approach examined responses to the open-ended questions with frequencies and variations in responses determined using Chi-Square tests. Results A total of 547 complete responses were obtained. Compared to post-lockdown period, lockdown was associated with a significantly lower levels of physical activity, poorer mental well-being and sense of control over one’s life, and a higher level of loneliness. Similarly, during lockdown, there was a significantly higher consumption of junk food, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks but no change in fruit and vegetable intake. Participants recalled health campaigns on hand washing and social distancing and there was a retrospective view that more timely and informative campaigns on physical activity, nutrition and mental well-being should have been available during lockdown. Conclusions While advice on infection control measures were appropriately provided, there is a need for concurrent health promotional information to help combat the changes in physical, mental and psychosocial well-being observed during quarantine to prevent negative health consequences in the community even if there are minimal effects of the pandemic itself.