The SARS-CoV-2 virus was declared a global pandemic by the Worlds Health Organization on March 11th 2020. The next day expansive restrictions were enforced by the Norwegian government to reduce spread of the virus. These included closing down schools, kindergartens, sports, universities, encouraging home office wherever possible, strict border control, home quarantine and expansive social distancing. Mental health services were also affected by the restrictions, and consequently face-to-face consultations were replaced by telephone- or video consultations. Inpatients experienced restrictions in the freedom to leave the wards, visits were not permitted and group activities were limited or closed down.
Individuals with psychotic illnesses are generally considered one of the most vulnerable groups within the mental health services, and they often have several comorbid conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and cognitive impairment. Despite low prevalence, two thirds of all psychiatric hospital days and half of all psychiatric outpatient consultations are linked to psychotic illnesses.
The main objective of this study is to investigate how the national shut-down enforced due to the ongoing pandemic has affected individuals receiving treatment for psychotic illnesses at Oslo University Hospital. We will examine the individuals’ subjective experiences of changes in psychotic symptoms, depression, alcohol- and drug abuse, traumatic experiences, quality of life, and functioning in terms of employment or studies. We also aim to examine the individuals’ experiences with the mental health services during the shut-down period, both in terms of quality and accessibility. A secondary objective of the study is to examine therapists’ assessment of the quality of care during the shut-down and the impact this has had on the patient group.
Participants will be invited to respond to a questionnaire. The questionnaire will be available both online and in paper. Therapists will be invited to respond to an online questionnaire. We will also draw a selection of patient journals to compare the individuals’ responses to what is documented in their journal in order to examine if therapists were able to accurately assess clinical changes in their patients via telephone and video consultations.