Vicarious traumatization in the general public, members, and non-members of medical teams aiding in COVID-19 control

Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Aug:88:916-919. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.03.007. Epub 2020 Mar 10.


Since December 2019, more than 79,000 people have been diagnosed with infection of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). A large number of medical staff was sent to Wuhan city and Hubei province to aid COVID-19 control. Psychological stress, especially vicarious traumatization caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, should not be ignored. To address this concern, the study employed a total of 214 general public and 526 nurses (i.e., 234 front-line nurses and 292 non-front-line nurses) to evaluate vicarious traumatization scores via a mobile app-based questionnaire. Front-line nurses are engaged in the process of providing care for patients with COVID-19. The results showed that the vicarious traumatization scores for front-line nurses including scores for physiological and psychological responses, were significantly lower than those of non-front-line nurses (P < 0.001). Interestingly, the vicarious traumatization scores of the general public were significantly higher than those of the front-line nurses (P < 0.001); however, no statistical difference was observed compared to the scores of non-front-line nurses (P > 0.05). Therefore, increased attention should be paid to the psychological problems of the medical staff, especially non-front-line nurses, and general public under the situation of the spread and control of COVID-19. Early strategies that aim to prevent and treat vicarious traumatization in medical staff and general public are extremely necessary.

Keywords: COVID-19; Front-line nurses; General public; Non-front-line nurses; Vicarious traumatization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Compassion Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Compassion Fatigue / psychology
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / nursing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / nursing
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult