Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has induced demanding work situations in intensive care units (ICU). The objective of our study was to survey psychological reactions, the disturbance of social life, work effort, and support in ICU nurses, physicians, and leaders.
Methods: From May to July 2020, this cross-sectional study included 484 ICU professionals from 27 hospitals throughout Norway. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were measured on Hopkins Symptom Checklist-10 (HSCL-10). Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were measured on the PCL-5.
Results: The study population were highly educated and experienced professionals, well prepared for working with COVID-ICU patients. However, 53% felt socially isolated and 67% reported a fear of infecting others. Probable cases of anxiety and depression were found in 12.5% of the registered nurses, 11.6% of the physicians, and 4.1% of the leaders. Younger age and <5 years previous work experiences were predictors for high HSCL-10 scores. Reported symptom-defined PTSD for nurses 7.1%; the leaders, 4.1%; and 2.3% of physicians.
Conclusions: ICU health care professionals experienced talking with colleagues as the most helpful source of support. The COVID-ICU leaders reported a significantly higher mean score than physicians and nurses in terms of pushing themselves toward producing high work effort.
Keywords: COVID-19; PTSD; anxiety; depression; health personnel; intensive care units; social interaction; stress disorder.