Pandemic may threaten front-line providers' mental health, study suggests

Working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic may cause high rates of anxiety and depression among clinicians, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers surveyed 1,257 nurses and physicians at 34 Chinese hospitals equipped to treat COVID-19 patients from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3. The survey collected information on workers' demographics and mental health status.

Three study findings:

1. About 50 percent of respondents reported symptoms of depression, while 44.6 percent reported anxiety.

2. Thirty-four percent of healthcare workers said they experienced insomnia, and 71.5 percent said they felt distressed.

3. Women, nurses, healthcare workers at Wuhan-based hospitals and those on the front line of care reported more severe mental health symptoms than other workers.

"Protecting healthcare workers is an important component of public health measures for addressing the COVID-19 epidemic," the study authors concluded. "Special interventions to promote mental well-being in healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 need to be immediately implemented, with women, nurses and frontline workers requiring particular attention."

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