Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2022 Aug 4:1-12. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2022.203. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research is to identify sociodemographic predictors of depression for a rural population in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to enhance mental health disaster preparedness.
METHODS: This study uses t-tests to differentiate between gender and ethnicity groups regarding depression status; binary logistic regression to identify socio-demographic characteristics that predict depression status; and t-test to differentiate between average depression scores, measured by the PHQ-9, pre-COVID-19 pandemic (2019) and after it’s start (2020).
RESULTS: Results indicate men were less likely than women to report depression. Clients who identified as Latinx/Hispanic were 2.8 times more likely than non-Hispanics to report depression and clients who did not reside in public housing were 19.9% less likely to report depression. There was a statistically significant difference between mean PHQ-9 scores pre- and post-pandemic, with pre-pandemic scores lower on average, with a small effect size.
CONCLUSIONS: Building on findings from this study, we propose ways to increase rural access to mental health services, through equitable access to telemedicine, to meet the needs of rural clients to increase disaster preparedness.