Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019

For individuals working on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic, the stress and pressure of the situation can have a dramatic negative impact on mental wellbeing.

Although psychological interventions for health care professionals have been implemented to reduce the impact of visceral trauma and promote self-care, the evidence-base for the effectiveness of such support is scarce.

To address this gap, researchers from China have sought to evaluate mental health outcomes among health care workers treating patients with COVID-19 by gathering information about symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress and by analysing potential risk factors associated with these symptoms. 

The researchers examined data from 1257 health care workers from 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 in multiple regions of China.

They found that:

  • Considerable numbers of participants reported the negative impact of working on the frontline. 50.4% showed symptoms of depression, 44.6% anxiety, 34.0% insomnia, and 71.5% experienced distress.  
  • Nurses, women, frontline health care workers, and those working in Wuhan, China, reported more severe degrees of all measurements of mental health symptoms than other health care workers
  • Frontline health care workers engaged in the direct diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients with COVID-19 were associated with a higher risk of symptoms of stress.

It is vital that the physical and mental wellbeing of the professionals who are saving lives on a daily is preserved.

The authors concluded:

Special interventions to promote mental wellbeing in health care workers exposed to COVID-19 need to be immediately implemented, with women, nurses, and frontline workers requiring particular attention.

Lai J, Ma S, Wang Y, et al. Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(3):e203976. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.3976
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