Impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on healthcare workers: systematic comparison between nurses and medical doctors

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2021 Jul 1;34(4):413-419. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000721.


Purpose of review: The COVID-19 outbreak has had major impact on individual's psychological health and overall well being worldwide. Evidence shows that these psychological challenges are especially prominent in healthcare workers (HCW); especially in nurses. Indeed, several studies report that nurses suffer more psychologically because of the consequences of the pandemic compared with medical doctors. To further look into this, we systematically review the recent literature to see whether the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic differs between medical doctors and nurses across studies and which aspects of mental health are especially affected in nurses.

Recent findings: Across studies, there is solid evidence that nurses show poorer mental health outcomes compared with medical doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for symptoms of depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here, prevalence rates in nurses are often higher than 50%. In contrast, general stress levels and burnout seem to be comparable between nurses and medical doctors.

Summary: Given that nurses suffer more from depression, anxiety and PTSD symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, special programs addressing their needs are required.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data
  • Pandemics
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • SARS-CoV-2