Self-Stigmatization of Healthcare Workers in Intensive Care, Acute, and Emergency Medicine

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Oct 28;19(21):14038. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192114038.


This quantitative study examines whether employees in the fields of intensive care or acute and emergency medicine experience psychological distress because of their daily work. In addition, it was examined if self-stigmatization tendencies can significantly influence the willingness to seek help, and therefore psychological problems are not being treated adequately. These problems lead to various difficulties in professional and private contexts and ultimately endanger patient safety. From May to June 2021, an online questionnaire survey was conducted. This questionnaire combined two validated measuring instruments (PHQ-D and SSDS). To ensure high participation, the departments of anesthesia and/or intensive care medicine in 68 German hospitals were contacted, of which 5 responded positively. A total of 244 people participated in the questionnaire survey. On average, depressive symptoms were of mild severity. At the same time, self-stigmatization regarding depressive symptoms was high. These results highlight the practical need to prepare staff who work in the field of intensive care or acute and emergency medicine at the early onset for potentially traumatic and emotionally demanding events during their university education or studies. Adequate, evaluated, and continuously available support services from the psychosocial field should become an integral part of every staff care structure.

Keywords: German hospitals; acute medicine; emergency medicine; emotional burden; intensive care; mental stress; quantitative study; self-stigmatization.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Psychological Distress*
  • Stereotyping

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.