Mental Health during the COVID‑19 Pandemic: A Living Systematic Review of Mental Health Burden, Factors Associated with Mental Health Outcomes, and Intervention Effectiveness in the General Population and Vulnerable Populations

Thombs, Brett D | $50,000

Quebec CIUSSS de Centre-Ouest-de-l'Ile-de-Montréal-Jewish General 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

There will be serious mental health implications from COVID‑19 that extend beyond the outbreak for many people. Addressing mental health needs requires understanding the nature and extent of mental health ramifications, factors associated with vulnerability, and evidence on effectiveness of interventions that may be rapidly employed to prevent or address mental health concerns. There is little evidence from prior outbreaks to build upon. Studies from COVID‑19 are published rapidly, but many are of dubious quality. Thus, curation of this growing evidence base is urgently needed to provide practitioners and policy makers with clear, coherent evidence synthesis. Living systematic reviews are systematic reviews that are continually updated and provide ongoing access to results via online publication. They are logistically challenging, but provide value beyond conventional systematic reviews in situations where (1) important decisions need to be made; (2) uncertainty in existing evidence poses a barrier to decision-making; and (3) new evidence is emerging rapidly. Such a review is urgently needed to guide mental health care during and following COVID-19. Our research team has expertise in high-impact evidence synthesis research (). Our protocol has been made public on the Open Science Framework (). An editorial on the project has been published and will be indexed in major search databases to announce that the living systematic review will provide ongoing, rigorous curation of COVID‑19 mental health evidence. We have already launched initial database searches, are receiving daily search updates, and have already reviewed almost 4,000 article citations. We have published initial evidence online (). Funding is needed to fully include Chinese-language evidence, synthesize and prepare running briefs of evidence on vulnerable populations, and for continuous web updates.

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