Monday 1 March 2021

Costa Rica will study the mental health of its population against COVID-19

Alliance with public universities will allow the Ministry of Health and the CCSS to guide efforts to promote the well-being of the country's inhabitants in times of pandemic. Studies will begin in October, with the support of research teams from America and Europe.

QCOSTARICA –  In order to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the Costa Rican population, the Ministry of Health, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social(CCSS), and three public universities will begin this month with a series of investigations aimed at the general public, health workers and the elderly.

From Minister of Health website

On Friday, the Vice Minister of Health, Alejandra Acuña, said at the daily noon press conference the three studies will be carried out by research teams from the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), la Universidad Nacional (UNA) and the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED).

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In terms of health, the contribution of public universities in the health emergency has been reflected in the manufacture of medical devices for the care of people positive for COVID-19, in support of the treatment of the disease with the formulation of equine antibodies and in statistical projections for making timely decisions, and in accompanying the population from research and social action programs, among others.

At this time, they have proposed to work on three investigations, the results of which will allow institutions and specialists in the different branches of psychology and health, to know the emotional state of the general population, of people in the first line of care of the pandemic and the elderly, who are part of the population vulnerable to the pandemic.

The research will allow an in-depth understanding of the cognitive, behavioral, emotional and physical impact of COVID-19 in the general population, as well as the perceived risk and fear of contagion, the ability and coping strategies of people. This study is developed by the UNED and the UNA, with the support of the Ministry of Health, the CCSS and Spanish experts.

Additionally, the research will investigate compliance with health measures and respect for the social bubble, it will also explore current and future effects and strategies in the educational field under face-to-face, distance, virtual and mixed education modalities. To participate in the study, you must complete a questionnaire available here.

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“For us it is essential to contribute from the academy with research that guides the health authorities and other organizations in the care of the mental health of the population, at a time when confinement, physical distancing and stress associated with the risk of contagion of the COVID-19, affects the emotional balance of people. We want to accompany them, be by their side, this is a value that as a university we intend to give,” said the rector of UNED, Rodrigo Arias Camacho.

The research is coordinated by the School of Psychology of the UNA, with the participation of the Institute of Psychological Research of the UCR, the University of Valencia, Spain, and the University of California, Davis (UC DAVIS) and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC).

The rector of UNA, Francisco González Alvarado, assured that “it is a source of pride to report that public universities will carry out three investigations on mental health in times of COVID-19. The National University will participate in all three and coordinate research focused on older adults. Having evidence of the situations that increase mental health problems in this population is of great importance to preserve the quality of life during and after the health emergency, in Costa Rica and Spain, members of the group of the oldest countries in the world”.

The care of patients with COVID-19 falls mainly on the work of health personnel. These workers have intense days every day to protect the health of people infected by the coronavirus. In this context, this inter-institutional project arose, proposed by the UCR and the UNA, in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the CCSS. The study was declared of institutional interest by the Ministry of Health and will be carried out in the coming months.

The objective of the research is to investigate the different forms of physical and emotional discomfort of the CCSS health personnel involved, directly or indirectly, in the care and contact with users. An online questionnaire will be applied to all the personnel of said institution, who can answer it anonymously and thus be able to guarantee the confidentiality of the information.

“Emotional health is part of the integral health of people and its care requires urgent and joint actions. For this reason, the University of Costa Rica, once again, shows its commitment to the care and well-being of those who care for us; that is, the health personnel who are working in the first line of care for COVID-19. Hence, this research is of utmost importance to provide inputs to the CCSS that contribute to decision-making in the comprehensive care of its staff, “said the Vice-Rector for Social Action of the University of Costa Rica, Sandra Araya Umaña.

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