Background: The impact of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was enormous, but few studies have focused on the infectious and general health status of healthcare workers (HCWs) who treated patients with SARS.
Design: We prospectively evaluated the general health status of HCWs during the SARS epidemic. The Medical Outcome Study Short-Form 36 Survey was given to all HCWs immediately after caring for patients with SARS and 4 weeks after self-quarantine and off-duty shifts. Tests for detection of SARS coronavirus antibody were performed for HCWs at these 2 time points and for control subjects during the SARS epidemic.
Setting: Tertiary care referral center in Taipei, Taiwan.
Subjects: Ninety SARS-care task force members (SARS HCWs) and 82 control subjects.
Results: All serum specimens tested negative for SARS antibody. Survey scores for SARS HCWs immediately after care were significantly lower than those for the control group (P<.05 by the t test) in 6 categories. Vitality, social functioning, and mental health immediately after care and vitality and mental health after self-quarantine and off-duty shifts were among the worst subscales. The social functioning, role emotional, and role physical subscales significantly improved after self-quarantine and off-duty shifts (P<.05, by paired t test). The length of contact time (mean number of contact-hours per day) with patients with SARS was associated with some subscales (role emotional, role physical, and mental health) to a mild extent. The total number of contact-hours with symptomatic patients with SARS was a borderline predictor (adjusted R2=0.069; P=.038) of mental health score.
Conclusions: The impact of the SARS outbreak on SARS HCWs was significant in many dimensions of general health. The vitality and mental health status of SARS HCWs 1 month after self-quarantine and off-duty shifts remained inferior to those of the control group.