Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Psychological, Behavioural, Interpersonal Effects, and Clinical Implications for Health Systems

Gianluca Castelnuovo, Andrea De Giorgio, Gian Manzoni, Changiz Mohiyeddini, Darren C Treadway, Daniel Bressington, Sally Wai Chi Chan, Llewellyn Ellardus van Zyl, Antonella Granieri, John Naslund

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issueAcademicpeer-review


The novel coronavirus disease that emerged at the end of 2019 began threatening the health and lives of millions of people after a few weeks. Highly contagious with the possibility of causing severe respiratory disease, it has quickly impacted governments and public health systems. These have responded by declaring a public health emergency of national and international concern, as well as by adopting extraordinary measures to prevent the contagion and limit the outbreak. Millions of lives have been significantly altered, and a global, multi-level, and demanding stress-coping-adjustment process is ongoing.

The COVID-19 disease has now achieved pandemic status. The World Health Organization has issued guidelines for managing the problem from both biomedical and psychological points of view. While preventive and medical action is the most important at this stage, emergency psychological crisis interventions for people affected by COVID-19 are also critical. This includes direct interventions for patients, and indirect for relatives, caregivers, and health care professionals.

After the first experiences in China, clinical institutions and universities internationally have opened online platforms to provide psychological counseling services for affected people. Nevertheless, some research has underlined that the mental health of COVID-19 patients (including confirmed patients, patients with suspected infection, quarantined family members, and health care workers) has been poorly considered and handled. Moreover, in order to develop psychological interventions for all or specific (e.g., more vulnerable) groups, important issues to address include the adverse psychological impacts and psychopathological symptoms in the general population during the pandemic.

The goal of this Research Topic is to stimulate novel investigations and theoretical perspectives on how people are psychologically affected by and coping with the COVID-19 emergency. We intend for this article collection to be a discussion platform on how to help people cope with and adjust to the critical situation. Specific aims include reducing the risk of developing distress, improving well-being, as well as promoting preventive behaviors. Further, this Research Topic aims to offer governments and policymakers evidence-based strategies to improve public and clinical intervention systems. Finally, we aim to elucidate strategies to effectively manage mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original Research, Data Reports, Study Protocols, Community Case Studies, Case Reports, theoretical perspectives, and viewpoints are welcome. Important subject areas of this Research Topic include:

• Individual, family, and interpersonal coping with the COVID-19 emergency;
• Risk factors of psychological distress at the individual, family, interpersonal and cultural level (e.g., activity restriction and reduction of pleasant events; personality traits; hypochondria and cyberchondria; mental disorders; family characteristics; social support, etc.);
• Impact of mass media and social media on psychological attitudes and behaviors towards the COVID-19 emergency;
• Coping as a health professional during the epidemic (e.g., emotions, psychological burdens, anxiety, traumatic experiences, PTSD);
• Clinical and health-based psychological interventions for sufferers, high-risk individuals, and those living in the worst-hit communities;
• Clinical emergency protocols to manage mental health problems: evidence-based suggestions and indications to governments and policymakers;
• Behavior-change interventions to improve adherence and compliance with preventive regulations and guidance;
• Internet interventions, remote psychological support, mHealth-eHealth based treatments, psychology-oriented digital tools and apps in the COVID-19 emergency;
• Monitoring changes in psychological, behavioral and interpersonal responses to the COVID-19 emergency over time;
• Cross-cultural comparisons in responding to and coping with the COVID-19 emergency at the individual, family, and interpersonal levels.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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