The pandemic toll and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare workers at a Swiss University Hospital

Prev Med Rep. 2022 Oct:29:101899. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2022.101899. Epub 2022 Jul 8.


Healthcare workers have potentially been among the most exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as the deleterious toll of the pandemic. This study has the objective to differentiate the pandemic toll from post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare workers compared to the general population. The study was conducted between April and July 2021 at the Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland. Eligible participants were all tested staff, and outpatient individuals tested for SARS-CoV-2 at the same hospital. The primary outcome was the prevalence of symptoms in healthcare workers compared to the general population, with measures of COVID-related symptoms and functional impairment, using prevalence estimates and multivariable logistic regression models. Healthcare workers (n = 3083) suffered mostly from fatigue (25.5 %), headache (10.0 %), difficulty concentrating (7.9 %), exhaustion/burnout (7.1 %), insomnia (6.2 %), myalgia (6.7 %) and arthralgia (6.3 %). Regardless of SARS-CoV-2 infection, all symptoms were significantly higher in healthcare workers than the general population (n = 3556). SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare workers was associated with loss or change in smell, loss or change in taste, palpitations, dyspnea, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and headache. Functional impairment was more significant in healthcare workers compared to the general population (aOR 2.28; 1.76-2.96), with a positive association with SARS-CoV-2 infection (aOR 3.81; 2.59-5.60). Symptoms and functional impairment in healthcare workers were increased compared to the general population, and potentially related to the pandemic toll as well as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection. These findings are of concern, considering the essential role of healthcare workers in caring for all patients including and beyond COVID-19.