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The psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis is higher among young Swiss men with a lower socioeconomic status: Evidence from a cohort study

Marmet, Simon; Wicki, Matthias; Gmel, Gerhard; Gachoud, Céline; Daeppen, Jean-Bernard; Bertholet, Nicolas; Studer, Joseph (2021). The psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis is higher among young Swiss men with a lower socioeconomic status: Evidence from a cohort study. PLOS ONE, 16 (7), e0255050. 10.1371/journal.pone.0255050

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The present study aimed to investigate whether the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis varied with regards to young Swiss men’s pre-crisis level of education and socioeconomic status and to changes in their work situation due to it.

A cohort of 2345 young Swiss men (from 21 out of 26 Swiss cantons; mean age = 29) completed survey-based assessments shortly before (April 2019 to February 2020) and early on during the COVID-19 crisis (May to June 2020). Outcomes measured were psychological outcomes before and during the COVID-19 crisis (depression, perceived stress and sleep quality), and the fear, isolation and psychological trauma induced by it. We investigated associations between these outcomes and their predictors: pre-crisis socioeconomic status (relative financial status, difficulty paying bills, level of education), changes in work situation during the crisis (job loss, partial unemployment, working from home, change in workload) and working in contact with potentially infected people, both inside and outside the healthcare sector. For outcomes measured before and during the crisis, the analyses were adjusted for their pre-crisis levels.

About 21% of participants changed their employment status (job loss, partial unemployment or lost money if self-employed) and more than 40% worked predominantly from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Participants with a lower relative socioeconomic status already before the crisis experienced a higher psychological impact due to the COVID-19 crisis, compared to participants with an average socioeconomic status (major depression (b = 0.12 [0.03, 0.22]), perceived stress (b = 0.15 [0.05, 0.25]), psychological trauma (b = 0.15 [0.04, 0.26]), fear (b = 0.20 [0.10, 0.30]) and isolation (b = 0.19 [0.08, 0.29])). A higher impact was also felt by participants who lost their job due to the COVID-19 crisis, the partially unemployed, those with an increased workload or those who worked mainly from home (e.g. depression b = 0.25 [0.16, 0.34] for those working 90%+ at home, compared to those not working at home).

Even in a country like Switzerland, with relatively high social security benefits and universal healthcare, the COVID-19 crisis had a considerable psychological impact, especially among those with a lower socioeconomic status and those who experienced deteriorations in their work situation due to the COVID-19 crisis. Supporting these populations during the crisis may help to prevent an amplification of inequalities in mental health and social status. Such support could help to lower the overall impact of the crisis on the mental well-being of Switzerland’s population.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

PHBern Contributor:

Wicki, Matthias




Jessica Brunner

Date Deposited:

16 Feb 2023 15:29

Last Modified:

17 Apr 2023 09:16

Publisher DOI:





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