The findings, which were recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, are based on an analysis of US residents’ mental health following the 2016 presidential election.
By analyzing the responses of 499,201 adults surveyed in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between May 2016 and May 2017, the researchers concluded that in states won by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, the average monthly number of days of poor mental health per adult increased from 3.35 days in October 2016 to 3.85 days in December 2016, one month after the election took place.
“It’s possible the mental health worsening in the Clinton states had been exacerbated by the largely unexpected nature of the loss - at least according to pre-election polls,” study author Brandon Yan told Medical News Today.
According to the researchers, the analysis thus revealed that there were 54.6 million extra days of poor mental health in December 2016 among the more than 100 million adults living in states won by Clinton. The analysis also indicated that there was no significant change in mental health among Americans in states where US President Donald Trump received the most votes.
Clinical psychologist Lynn Bufka, who was not involved in the study, is not surprised by the study’s findings, HealthDay News reported.
"People had a lot of emotional investment in the 2016 election, and the current outcome as well," Bufka noted. "They really want certain outcomes, and if they don't get what they want it can be very, very disappointing."
Based on the study results, researchers believe that health care providers should be mindful of the possibility of worsening mental health among patients following the recent election as well.
“Clinicians should consider that elections could cause at least transitory increases in poor mental health and tailor patient care accordingly,” Yan told Medical News Today.
"Elections may not seem like events that would themselves impact public health, but this study shows us that we should pay attention to their health effects,” Yan added.