Younger healthcare workers more likely to stress out during virus outbreaks, study shows

During virus outbreaks, healthcare workers who were younger were at a higher risk of experiencing psychological distress, a new study shows.

For the study, published in The BMJ, researchers searched several databases, including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, Embase and medRxiv, to find 59 papers that met the criteria for inclusion in the study. The papers examined the psychological reactions of healthcare staff working during an outbreak of any emerging virus in any clinical setting. Most of the papers focused on SARS, but eight focused on COVID-19 and seven on MERS.

Researchers found that risk factors for psychological distress included being younger, being at a more junior level, being the parents of dependent children, or having an infected family member.

Also, compared with healthcare workers at low risk of exposure to the virus, workers in direct contact with patients had higher levels of both acute or post-traumatic stress as well as psychological distress.

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