SARS-CoV-2 and risk of psychiatric hospital admission and use of psychopharmaceuticals: A nationwide registry study of 4,585,083 adult Danish citizens

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Fulltext

    Final published version, 726 KB, PDF document

Background Current evidence on the risk of admission- or medication-requiring psychiatric sequelae of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is limited to selected populations, short durations, and loss to follow-up. This study examined if SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with increased long-term risk of psychiatric admissions and de novo prescription of psychoactive medication in the general population of Denmark. Methods Adults (≥18 years) were assigned to either the control or SARS-CoV-2 group based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests between 1 January 2020 and 27 November 2021. Infected subjects were matched 1:5 to control subjects by propensity score. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were calculated. Adjusted Cox regression was applied to the unmatched population with SARS-CoV-2 infection as a time-dependent covariate. Follow-up time was 12 months or until the end of the study. Results A total of 4,585,083 adults were included in the study. Approximately 342,084 had a PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and were matched 1:5 with 1,697,680 controls. The IRR for psychiatric admission was 0.79 in the matched population (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.73-0.85, p < 0.001). In the unmatched population, the adjusted hazard ratios (aHR) for psychiatric admission were either below 1.00 or with a 95% CI lower limit of 1.01. SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with an increased risk of de novo prescription of psychoactive medication in both the matched (IRR 1.06, 95% CI: 1.02-1.11, p < 0.01) and unmatched population (HR 1.31, 95% CI: 1.28-1.34, p < 0.001). Conclusions We found a signal of increased use of psychoactive medication, specifically benzodiazepines, among SARS-CoV-2-positive persons, but the risk of psychiatric admissions did not increase.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere50
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Psychiatric Association.

    Research areas

  • Long COVID, psychiatry, psychopharmaceuticals, SARS-CoV-2

ID: 367712835