BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted people's lives across a broad spectrum of psychosocial domains. We report the development and psychometric evaluation of the self-report COVID-19 Pandemic Mental Health Questionnaire (CoPaQ), which assesses COVID-19 contamination anxiety, countermeasure necessity and compliance, mental health impact, stressor impact, social media usage, interpersonal conflicts, paranoid ideations, institutional & political trust, conspiracy beliefs, and social cohesion. Further, we illustrate the questionnaire's utility in an applied example investigating if higher SARS-Cov-2 infection rates in psychiatric patients could be explained by reduced compliance with preventive countermeasures. METHODS: A group of 511 non-clinical individuals completed an initial pool of 111 CoPaQ items (Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/3evn9/ ) and additional scales measuring psychological distress, well-being, and paranoia to assess construct validity and lifetime mental health diagnosis for criterion validity. Factor structure was determined by exploratory factor analyses and validated by conducting confirmatory factor analysis in the accompanying longitudinal sample (n = 318) and an independent psychiatric inpatient sample primarily admitted for major depressive-, substance abuse-, personality-, and anxiety disorders (n = 113). Internal consistency was assessed by Cronbach's Alpha and McDonald's Omega. For the applied research example, Welch t-tests and correlational analyses were conducted. RESULTS: Twelve out of 16 extracted subscales were retained in the final questionnaire version, which provided preliminary evidence for adequate psychometric properties in terms of factor structure, internal consistency, and construct and criterion validity. Our applied research example showed that patients exhibited greater support for COVID-19 countermeasures than non-clinical individuals. However, this requires replication in future studies. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that the CoPaQ is a comprehensive and valid measure of the psychosocial impact of the pandemic and could allow to a degree to disentangle the complex psychosocial phenomena of the pandemic as exemplified by our applied analyses.
Coronavirus, Factor analysis, Preventive countermeasures, Psychosocial impact, Questionnaire validation