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Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Nov 1;184(9):636-643. Epub 2016 Oct 19.

Direct Participation in and Indirect Exposure to the Occupy Central Movement and Depressive Symptoms: A Longitudinal Study of Hong Kong Adults.


Despite the extensive history of social movements around the world, the evolution of population mental health before, during, and after a social movement remains sparsely documented. We sought to assess over time the prevalence of depressive symptoms during and after the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong and to examine the associations of direct and indirect exposures to Occupy Central with depressive symptoms. We longitudinally administered interviews to 909 adults who were randomly sampled from the population-representative FAMILY Cohort at 6 time points from March 2009 to March 2015: twice each before, during, and after the Occupy Central protests. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 was used to assess depressive symptoms and probable major depression (defined as Patient Health Questionnaire-9 score ≥10). The absolute prevalence of probable major depression increased by 7% after Occupy Central, regardless of personal involvement in the protests. Higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with online and social media exposure to protest-related news (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.06, 1.55) and more frequent Facebook use (IRR = 1.38, 95% CI: 1.12, 1.71). Higher levels of intrafamilial sociopolitical conflict was associated with more depressive symptoms (IRR = 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.09). The Occupy Central protests resulted in substantial and sustained psychological distress in the community.


depression; longitudinal study; protest; social media; social movement; social psychiatry

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