'Should I Stay, or Should I Go?' Psychological Distress Predicts Career Change Ideation among Intensive Care Staff in Lithuania and the UK Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Mar 6;18(5):2660. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18052660.


The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on healthcare globally. Additional pressure created by coronavirus adversely affected the mental health and psychological well-being of healthcare workers, leading many to question their desire and willingness to continue working in healthcare. This study aimed to identify predictors for career change ideation among healthcare professionals in two countries; Lithuania and the United Kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic. In total, 610 healthcare professionals from Lithuania and the UK (285 and 325, respectively) participated in a survey from May to August 2020. Psychological distress and psychological well-being were measured using the self-report scales "DASS-21" and "WHO-5". Almost half of the sample (49.2%), 59.6% and 40.0% in Lithuanian and the UK, respectively, exhibited career change ideation, the country effect was significant (AOR = 2.21, p < 0.001). Stronger ideation to leave healthcare was predicted by higher levels of depression (AOR = 1.10, p = 0.005), stress (AOR = 1.10, p = 0.007), anxiety surrounding inadequate personal protective equipment (AOR = 2.27, p = 0.009), and lower psychological well-being scores (AOR = 1.10, p = 0.007). We conclude that psychosocial support must be provided for healthcare professionals to prevent burnout and loss of staff amid the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; burn-out; healthcare; mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • COVID-19*
  • Critical Care
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Lithuania / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Psychological Distress*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology