Supporting mental health and wellbeing for people with congenital heart disease during the global covid-19 pandemic

Liza Morton, Calum Calderwood

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Those living with congenital heart disease (CHD) have lifelong experience of dealing with potentially traumatic health crises, medical uncertainty and experience increased vulnerability to anxiety, depression and PTSD. The COVID-19 pandemic may present additional challenges for this population including an increased risk of serious complications from the virus, the psychological impact of shielding and social distancing, changes to medical care provision, as well as social stigma of media narratives around ‘herd immunity’. Adults with CHD may also experience positive post-traumatic growth (PTG) in the face of such challenges, yet little is known as to what helps cultivate positive adaptation and PTG. Here, these additional challenges are considered drawing from one of the researcher’s lived experience¹ and preliminary findings from a cross-sectional, anonymous, online study exploring the impact of the pandemic on mental health for adults (n=236) with CHD. The study was conducted at The University of Strathclyde, with full ethical approval, in partnership with The Somerville Foundation. The impact of COVID-19 and shielding on mental health using both closed and open-ended questions, as well as a series of standardised psychosocial measures of traumatic experiences, coping mechanisms, emotional regulation and PTG were measured. Preliminary findings suggest the importance of fostering healthy emotional regulation and adaptive coping mechanisms in promoting PTG among adults with CHD. We recommend a growth-focused, psychologically and trauma-informed approach to medicine and public health, recognising the importance of promoting mental health and living well with CHD during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Co-researchers for this study: Dr Nicola Cogan, Lecturer/Clinical Psychologist, University of Strathclyde, Claire Murphy, MSc Student, University of Strathclyde and Jacek Kolacz, Research Fellow, University of Indiana and Evan Fix, Research Fellow, University of Indiana. References ¹Morton (2020) We need to develop a framework to help those most vulnerable from covid-19, BMJ Opinion Blog.


  • congenital heart disease
  • mental health
  • COVID 19
  • lockdown
  • shielding


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