DOI: 10.1097/nmd.0000000000001607 ISSN: 1539-736X

Impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Coronavirus Disease 2019, and Social Unrest on Adult Psychiatric Admissions in Hong Kong

Chak Fai Ma, Wai Tong Chien, Hao Luo, Daniel Bressington, Eric Yu Hai Chen, Sherry Kit Wa Chan
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


In Hong Kong, two infectious disease outbreaks occurred in 2003 (SARS) and 2020 (COVID-19), and a large-scale social unrest happened in 2019. These were stressful societal events that influenced the mental well-being of the public. We aimed to explore the impact of these events on psychiatric admissions in Hong Kong. Socioeconomic and population-based psychiatric hospital admission data were retrieved from the government and Hospital Authority. Negative binomial time-series regression analysis was applied and we found overall significant reductions of psychiatric admissions during both the SARS and COVID-19 periods (−7.4% to −16.8%). Particularly, the admissions for unipolar disorders (−16.2% to −39.7%) and neuroses (−20.9% to −31.9%) were greatly reduced during the infection outbreaks. But an increase of admissions for schizophrenia (12.0%) was seen during the social unrest period. These findings support introducing early and targeted community mental health care strategies to the vulnerable people during the stressful societal events.

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