Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with significant occupational stressors and challenges for front-line healthcare workers (HCWs), including COVID-19 exposure risk. Our study sought to assess factors contributing to HCW infection and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA.
Design: We conducted a cross sectional survey of HCWs (physicians, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), non-clinical staff) during May 2020. Participants completed a 42-item survey assessing disease transmission risk (clinical role, work environment, availability of personal protective equipment) and mental health (anxiety, depression and burn-out).
Setting: The questionnaire was disseminated over various social media platforms. 3083 respondents from 48 states, the District of Columbia and US territories accessed the survey.
Participants: Using a convenience sample of HCWs who worked during the pandemic, 3083 respondents accessed the survey and 2040 participants completed at least 80% of the survey.
Primary outcome: Prevalence of self-reported COVID-19 infection, in addition to burn-out, depression and anxiety symptoms.
Results: Participants were largely from the Northeast and Southern USA, with attending physicians (31.12%), nurses (26.80%), EMTs (13.04%) with emergency medicine department (38.30%) being the most common department and specialty represented. Twenty-nine per cent of respondents met the criteria for being a probable case due to reported COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test. HCWs in the emergency department (31.64%) were more likely to contract COVID-19 compared with HCWs in the ICU (23.17%) and inpatient settings (25.53%). HCWs that contracted COVID-19 also reported higher levels of depressive symptoms (mean diff.=0.31; 95% CI 0.16 to 0.47), anxiety symptoms (mean diff.=0.34; 95% CI 0.17 to 0.52) and burn-out (mean diff.=0.54; 95% CI 0.36 to 0.71).
Conclusion: HCWs have experienced significant physical and psychological risk while working during the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings highlight the urgent need for increased support for provider physical and mental health well-being.
Keywords: COVID-19; anxiety disorders; epidemiology; occupational & industrial medicine; public health.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.