Scottish COVID-19 Mental Health Tracker Study: Wave 3 Report

Wave 3 findings (data collected between 1 October and 4 November 2020) indicate that young adults, women, people with physical and/or mental health conditions, and people in a lower socio-economic group are more likely to report experiencing poor mental health.


1. SEG measure categories AB-C1-C2-DE. Higher SEG (i.e., top-half): AB = Higher & intermediate managerial, administrative, professional occupations, C1 = Supervisory, clerical & junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations. Lower SEG (i.e., bottom-half): C2 = Skilled manual occupations, DE = Semi-skilled & unskilled manual occupations, unemployed and lowest grade occupations. (ONS, 2001).

2. Findings in this category were based on responses to questions on the mental health measure called the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9; Kroenke et al., 2001), which assesses frequency of depressive symptoms over the previous two weeks.

3. Anxiety symptoms were assessed using the mental health measure called the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7; Spitzer et al., 2006) scale, which asks about frequency of anxiety symptoms in the last 2 weeks.

4. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) is a psychological measure that assesses mental distress and mental ill-health in the previous two weeks, GHQ-12 scores of four or more are deemed a high GHQ-12 score and indicates the presence of a possible psychiatric disorder (McLean et al., 2018).

5. Mental wellbeing was measured using the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale: respondents are awarded a wellbeing score by adding together 7 questions (range: very low wellbeing =7, very high wellbeing =35). Scores were adjusted using Rasch transformation. Average scores (means) are used to investigate differences between subgroups.

6. Loneliness was measured using the 3 item UCLA Loneliness Scale (Hughes et al., 2014), mean loneliness scores are reported with a range of 3 (no loneliness) and 9, (high loneliness).

7. Social support was measured using four questions from the ENRICHD Social Support Instrument (ESSI; Mitchel et al., 2003), mean social support score are reported, range 4 (low social support) to 20 (high social support).

8. To measure levels of distress, respondents indicated on a 10-point scale how distressed they had felt in the past week, on a range of 0 (no distress) to 10 (extreme distress), mean scores are reported.

9. Current life satisfaction was assessed with 'All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays?' with 0 indicating extremely dissatisfied to 10, indicating extremely satisfied.

10. For further information on how Scotland transitioned out of lockdown.

11. For further information on COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland.

12. The published paper (O'Connor et al., 2020) can be found here

13. The statistical tests to assess change from Wave 1 to Wave 2 to Wave 3 used included Repeated Measures ANOVAs and General Estimating Equation (GEE) Models. For all tests a p-value equal to or smaller than 0.05 used as a cut-off for statistical significance.

14. To test Wave 3 subgroup differences t-tests and chi-square tests were used. For all tests a p-value equal to or smaller than 0.05 used as a cut-off for statistical significance.

15. For the purposes of this report, scores above the cut-off for moderate to severe depression (score ≥10) are tracked so as to mirror the most commonly used indicator in mental health research, and which suggests that treatment (psychotherapy or medication) may be recommended.

16. Measured using the Patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9) using a cut-off score ≥10 to indicate moderate to severe depression

17. Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS) © NHS Health Scotland, University of Warwick and University of Edinburgh, 2008, all rights reserved. As suggested by the scale authors, the scores underwent a Rasch transformation.

18. Data available: Mid-Year Population Estimates | National Records of Scotland (

19. Data available: Census 2011: Release 3I | National Records of Scotland (



Back to top