B4588 - The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on self-harm thoughts and behaviours in the ALSPAC cohort - 12/04/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Becky Mars | Bristol (United Kingdom)
Gamaliel Apeawini, Dr Naomi Warne , Miss Bushra Farooq
Title of project: 
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on self-harm thoughts and behaviours in the ALSPAC cohort
Proposal summary: 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had an immense impact on people’s lives worldwide. This may be particularly true for those with mental health issues. In the UK, presentations to hospitals for self-harm decreased markedly during the early period of the pandemic, before returning to normal levels (Paterson et al., 2023). This reduction was also reported in a systematic review (John, Eyles et al. 2020). However, one study found increased cases of self-harm thoughts in the emergency department, particularly for adolescent females (Sara, Wu et al. 2023). Patterns also differed according to factors such as socioeconomic status and age (Sara, Wu et al. 2023).

Results from a population-based survey suggest that suicidal thoughts and anxiety disorders increased during the pandemic, particularly among young adults, lower socioeconomic groups, and those with a history of mental health conditions (O'Connor, Wetherall et al. 2021). However, a population-wide data linkage study found unchanged patterns among individuals aged over 65 years, people living alone, or residents of affluent areas (Paterson et al., 2023). In another study, factors found to influence hospital presentations for self-harm during COVID-19 in the UK included COVID-19 infection, lockdown restrictions, limited access to psychiatric healthcare services, isolation, and mental health problems (Hawton, Lascelles et al. 2021).

The objective of this project is to identify the factors associated with self-harm thoughts and behaviours among young adults in the ALSPAC cohort during COVID-19. The study will contribute to the existing literature by using ALSPAC pre and post-pandemic data, collected prospectively, to identify different risk factors for self-harm thoughts and behaviours in the population. We will examine ten different risk factors related to self-harm thoughts and behaviours including participants’ demographics, mental health and personality, physical factors, and protective factors.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 11 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, self harm and suicide