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Sarah Yu 1 Article
Gender Inequalities in Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Population-based Study in Korea
Minku Kang, Sarah Yu, Seung-Ah Choe, Daseul Moon, Myung Ki, Byung Chul Chun
J Prev Med Public Health. 2023;56(5):413-421.   Published online August 19, 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3961/jpmph.23.170
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AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDFSupplementary Material
Objectives
This study explored the effect of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on psychosocial stress in prime working-age individuals in Korea, focusing on gender inequalities. We hypothesized that the impact of COVID-19 on mental health would differ by age and gender, with younger women potentially demonstrating heightened vulnerability relative to men.
Methods
The study involved data from the Korea Community Health Survey and included 319 592 adults aged 30 years to 49 years. We employed log-binomial regression analysis, controlling for variables including age, education, employment status, marital status, and the presence of children. The study period included 3 phases: the period prior to the COVID-19 outbreak (pre–COVID-19), the early pandemic, and the period following the introduction of vaccinations (post-vaccination).
Results
The findings indicated that women were at a heightened risk of psychosocial stress during the early pandemic (relative risk [RR], 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.98 to 1.05) and post-vaccination period (RR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.10) compared to men. This pattern was prominent in urban women aged 30-34 years (pre–COVID-19: RR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.10; early pandemic: RR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.25; post-vaccination period, RR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.14 to 1.31).
Conclusions
The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted unequal impacts on psychosocial stress among prime working-age individuals in Korea, with women, particularly those in urban areas, experiencing a heightened risk. The findings highlight the importance of addressing gender-specific needs and implementing appropriate interventions to mitigate the psychosocial consequences of the pandemic.
Summary
Korean summary
코로나19 대유행이 국내 경제활동인구의 정신건강에 미친 젠더화된 영향을 조사하였다. 연구대상자는 2017-2021년 지역사회건강조사 조사대상자 319,592명이다. 연구 결과, 대유행 이후 30-39세 연령대 여성의 스트레스 수준이 남성에 비하여 현저히 증가한 것으로 나타났으며, 사회적 거리두기를 엄격하게 시행하였던 도시 지역에서 이러한 경향이 두드러졌다. 이번 연구 결과는 대유행 대응 노력에서 취약 집단을 지원하기 위한 중재 정책의 필요성을 강조한다
Key Message
We investigate the gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the working-age population in Korea, focusing on ages 30-49, utilizing data from the Korea Community Health Survey (KCHS) from 2017 to 2021 including 319,592 participants. Findings reveal a notable increase in stress levels among women in the 30-39 age group after the pandemic compared to men, accentuating in urban areas with stringent social distancing measures. Our results underscore the necessity for intervention policies to support vulnerable groups in pandemic response efforts.

JPMPH : Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health