What are the current health problems

NAKO health study: Greater psychological stress due to the corona pandemic

Home office and homeschooling, restrictions in business life and in private contacts: Infections with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the first nationwide measures to contain the corona pandemic in spring 2020 put young to middle-aged people in particular psychologically stressed. This was the result of an evaluation of the NAKO health study, Germany's largest research project on the health of the general population.

Accordingly, under 60-year-olds reported increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially young women. But the proportion of those with moderate to severely pronounced depressive symptoms also increased from 6.4 to 8.8 percent. The survey also showed that self-perceived stress increased in all age groups and in both sexes.

Differences could be determined in a regional comparison: For example, more mental problems were found in the respondents in regions with higher SARS-CoV-2 incidences. In the north and north-east of Germany, i.e. in parts of the country with comparatively low numbers of corona cases, the stress symptoms were less pronounced.

An interesting, positive result of the survey: around a third (32%) of the participants assessed their own health at the time of the survey as better overall than at their first survey a few years earlier.

The ideal starting point for investigating the effects of the corona pandemic

Around 200,000 people take part in the NAKO health study; Of these, almost 114,000 people answered a separate questionnaire on the corona pandemic between the end of April and the end of May 2020. In this survey, the participants provided information about their state of health, possible experiences with specific Covid 19 disease symptoms, social contacts and possible psychosocial effects of the restrictions imposed. Many of the questions were formulated in such a way that the data collected can be directly related to the data collected as part of the NAKO health study before the pandemic. In this way, the existing NAKO data are supplemented and the scientists involved can at the same time gain more precise knowledge about the short and long-term consequences of the epidemic.

"The NAKO is the only Germany-wide cohort study in which current data on the health of the population in Germany are available immediately before and at the beginning of the pandemic," said Prof. Dr. Annette Peters, NAKO CEO and Director of the Institute for Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen, on the occasion of the separate survey. "The NAKO thus offers an ideal starting point to examine whether the changed living and working conditions during the pandemic will not only have a short-term impact on health, but will also affect the development of widespread diseases in the long term."

With around 200,000 participants, the NAKO health study is the largest long-term study in Germany and is also unique in Europe in this dimension. The study is a joint interdisciplinary project of universities and university medicine, facilities of the Helmholtz Association and other research institutes. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the federal states involved and the Helmholtz Association will invest up to 256 million euros in the study by 2023, which will open up a unique wealth of data for health research in Germany. Since 2014, men and women between the ages of 20 and 69 have been medically examined in 18 study centers nationwide and asked about their living conditions. The participants in the study form a representative cross-section of the population. The aim of the study is to better understand common diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in order to be able to combat them more effectively.