COVID-19-Related Fear, Risk Perception, and Safety Behavior in Individuals with Diabetes

(1) The aim of the study is to assess the psychological burden of individuals with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to matched controls. (2) Over the course of eight weeks, 9 April to 3 June 2020, 253 individuals with diabetes and 253 matched controls, using Propensity Score Matching (PSM), participated in this cross-sectional study. Participants completed an anonymous survey including demographics, depressive symptoms (PHQ-2), generalized anxiety (GAD-7), COVID-19-related fear, risk perception, and safety behavior. (3) While patients with diabetes expected their risk of infection similar to controls, they reported a higher probability of the occurrence of symptoms, severe course, and dying of COVID-19. Patients with diabetes showed no elevated generalized anxiety or depressive symptoms. However, they reported higher COVID-19-related fear and more adherent and dysfunctional safety behavior compared to controls. (4) From a public health view, it seems encouraging that despite the somatic risk condition, generalized anxiety and depression are not higher in patients with diabetes than in controls. Patients with diabetes report higher COVID-19-related fear, increased risk perception, and behavioral changes. This suggests that individuals with diabetes, as a significant risk group of severe COVID-19, show an adequate perception and functional reaction to the current pandemic.

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