More than 20% of healthcare workers experienced mental health challenges during pandemic, global study shows

More than 20 percent of healthcare workers experienced anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder during the pandemic, according to new research published March 10 in PLOS One.

Nathaniel Scherer, co-lead author of the study, and a research assistant at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Becker's the evidence supports the need for mental health intervention.

"The evidence is there, healthcare professionals are demonstrating elevated symptoms of common mental disorders and need support from governments, employers and service providers. Whilst mental health intervention and support is urgently needed, we must also explore and understand the factors associated with symptoms, so that the stressors placed on healthcare professionals can be reduced," he wrote in an email March 11. 

The systematic review and meta-analysis examined 65 studies conducted between December 2019 and August 2020 on the prevalence of mental disorders among healthcare workers. Data included 97,333 healthcare workers in 21 countries. Most of the studies (46) were conducted in East Asia. Seven took place in the Middle East, five in Europe, three in South Asia, one in South America, two in North America and one in West Africa.

Overall, researchers found 21.7 percent of healthcare workers experienced depression, and 22.1 percent experienced anxiety. More than 21 percent experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. Rates of depression (34.6 percent) and anxiety (28.9 percent) were highest in Middle East studies. They were lowest across the studies of North America (18.7 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively). 

But Mr. Scherer told CNN findings should be interpreted cautiously given the number of studies analyzed from each area. 

To read the full study, click here


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