The Work Environment during Coronavirus Epidemics and Pandemics: A Systematic Review of Studies Using Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed-Methods Designs

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jun 1;19(11):6783. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19116783.


We aimed to provide an overview of how work environment and occupational health are affected, and describe interventions designed to improve the work environment during epidemics and pandemics. The guidelines on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) were followed. The databases Cinahl, Medline, PsycInfo, and Web of Science were searched for population: working population; exposure: coronavirus epidemic or pandemic; and outcome: work environment, in articles published until October 2020. Quality assessment was based on a modified version of the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT). After deduplication 3711 articles remained, of which 530 were selected for full-text screening and 119 for quality assessment. After the exclusion of studies that were low quality, 95 remained, of which 85 focused on healthcare personnel and 10 on employees in other industries; 73 used quantitative methods and 22 used qualitative or mixed methods; the majority were based on cross-sectional data. Healthcare staff experienced increased job demands, poor leadership, and lack of resources (personal protective equipment, personnel, and competence). High demands and work with infected patients were associated with negative mental health outcomes. There was a lack of studies assessing interventions, studies from industries other than healthcare, and studies of high quality.

Keywords: PPE; epidemic; mental health; occupational health; pandemic; work environment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Workplace / psychology

Grants and funding

The systematic review was commissioned by the Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise (no 20/00187).