Non-Medical Health Care Personnel Are at Highest Risk for Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Outbreak

A survey of health care workers from two major tertiary institutions in Singapore who were caring for patients with COVID-19 suggests that nonmedical healthcare personnel are at highest risk for psychological distress related to the pandemic. A brief research report is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from National University Health System and Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore used a self-administered questionnaire to examine the psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and stress experienced by health care workers in Singapore in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and compared these outcomes between medically and non-medically trained hospital personnel. They found that the medically trained workers scored significantly lower on measures of depression and anxiety and impact of the event. Nonmedical health care workers had higher prevalence of anxiety even after adjustment for possible confounders. These findings are consistent with those of a recent COVID-19 study demonstrating that frontline nurses had significantly lower vicarious traumatization scores than non-frontline nurses and the general public. Reasons for this may include reduced accessibility to formal psychological support, less first-hand medical information on the outbreak, less intensive training on personal protective equipment and infection control measures.

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