Epidemiological data on the association between mental disorders and the risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity are limited.
To evaluate the association between mental disorders and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe outcomes following COVID-19.
We performed a cohort study using the Korean COVID-19 patient database based on national health insurance data. Each person with a mental or behavioural disorder (diagnosed during the 6 months prior to their first SARS-CoV-2 test) was matched by age, gender and Charlson Comorbidity Index with up to four people without mental disorders. SARS-CoV-2-positivity risk and the risk of death or severe events (intensive care unit admission, use of mechanical ventilation and acute respiratory distress syndrome) post-infection were calculated using conditional logistic regression analysis.
Among 230 565 people tested for SARS-CoV-2, 33 653 (14.6%) had mental disorders; 928/33 653 (2.76%) tested SARS-CoV-2 positive and 56/928 (6.03%) died. In multivariable analysis using the matched cohort, there was no association between mental disorders and SARS-CoV-2-positivity risk (odds ratio OR = 0.95; 95% CI 0.87–1.04); however, a higher risk was associated with schizophrenia-related disorders (OR = 1.50; 95% CI 1.14–1.99). Among confirmed COVID-19 patients, the mortality risk was significantly higher in patients with than in those without mental disorders (OR = 1.99, 95% CI 1.15–3.43).
Mental disorders are likely contributing factors to mortality following COVID-19. Although the infection risk was not higher for people with mental disorders overall, those with schizophrenia-related disorders were more vulnerable to infection.