Severe restrictions related to COVID-19 were implemented almost simultaneously in Italy and Israel in early March 2020, although the epidemic situation in both countries was significantly different. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine how and to what extent the severe restrictions affected the mental health and health-related quality of life of non-infected people, in a comparison between Israel and Italy.
A cross-sectional study was conducted during the first week of May 2020 among 510 Israeli and 505 Italian participants. Anxiety and depression levels were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4), and the short form-8 health survey (SF-8) questionnaire measured health-related quality of life. Linear hierarchic regression forced steps analysis was performed to measure the unique contribution of each variable to predicting health-related quality of life.
After adjusting for socioeconomic variables, the results showed a significantly higher anxiety level and lower health-related quality of life in the Italian participants. The anxiety and depression variables predicted lower health-related quality of life. Physical activity was found to be a protective factor.
The results suggest that early monitoring of anxiety and depression in situations such as quarantine may detect the risk for decline in health-related quality of life. Establishment of professional interventions is needed in order to prevent the negative health consequences of the pandemic-related policy.