COVID-19 Outbreak Devastatingly Affecting Mental Health of Healthcare Workers

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In a matter of months, the novel and deadliest coronavirus has pushing people’s mental health to a devastating level. The pandemic is causing widespread despair and feelings of vulnerability not just in the general population but also in the front- and second-line health care workers who are in a constant fight with the new virus throughout the world.

The virus does not simply attack the respiratory system but all major systems in the body, including the brain. So, health care workers (HCWs), whether front-line or second-line who are exposed to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in any way, could be psychologically stressed, says a recent study approved by the local institutional review board at University of L’Aquila (ULA). The study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

A cross-sectional, web-based study has been conducted to see the psychological disturbances currently experienced by the HWCs including doctors, nurses, and physicians. The data consisted of 1379 Italian HWCs that was collected through an online questionnaire by using a method known as ‘snowball technique’ and sponsored social network advertisements between a period of March 27 and March 31, 2020.

The online tool was designed to assess mainly three variables including the workplace of HWCs (front or second-line), and exposure to the novel coronavirus that has sickened nearly 6 million people with over 362,500 deaths, around the globe. While there is immense destruction caused by the deadly virus, nearly 2.6 million people have successfully fought against the coronavirus and recovered.

The death toll in Italy has reached above 33,000 and more than 231,000 cases are still running up in the country, according to the data compiled by mixed resources including Johns Hopkins University (JHU) live update about coronavirus and Worldometer.

Source: Reuters Graphics

The third variable assessed by the researchers was mental health that included depression, insomnia, posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), anxiety, and perceived stress.

To determine all the variables mentioned above, the research team used Italian version of the Global Psychotrauma Screen (GPS), the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7), the 7-item Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).

To assess all the demographical variables including, age, gender, working position in the hospital, occupation, and direct or indirect exposure to the pathogen, the team followed the multivariable logistic regression model (MLRM). MLRM can be referred to as a statistical method used to study two or more independent variables simultaneously to find the value of the dependent variable for each subject

The compilation of the results suggested that 49.38% and 24.73% of the participants suffered from PTSS and depression, respectively, whereas, 19.80%, 8.27% and 21.90% of the study sample showed symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and perceived stress, respectively.

By deeply analyzing the finding of the current study, we came to know that the general practitioners are more likely to suffer from PTSS than front-line workers. On another hand, nurses and health care assistants have shown more symptoms of severe insomnia.

HCWs who had a direct exposure to the deadly virus have been diagnosed with depression whereas those HCWs who had to meet or face sick team-mates had experienced PTSS, insomnia, and depression. The team also found out that those HCWs who had a hospitalized fellow worker also have gone through PTSS and higher perceived stress whereas, those workmates that have been in a state of isolation due to the virus have shown more symptoms of  PTSS, depression and higher perceived stress.

However, it is too early to decide the authenticity of the current study because of the self-selected and nonprobabilistic nature of the sample, invitations and response rates are not according to the guidelines of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

HCWs Are Working Selflessly For the Well-Being of COVID-19 Patients

It has been known that frontline healthcare providers and medical professionals including doctors, general physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists are at high risk of catching the coronavirus. Still, they are working selflessly and tirelessly to help the virus victims. They are going through a very hard time in which they have to provide outstanding care for others when they are not adequately cared for themselves

Tips to Reduce Stress-Related Events: Early psychological strategies, including progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), a good sound sleep, catharsis, and less use of caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine intake can be used as effective treatment methods to reduce stress and anxiety.

Source: Safe Work Australia

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