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Mental Health at Risk for Health Care Workers Treating COVID-19

Nurses, women, frontline health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients at greater mental health risk

MONDAY, March 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A considerable proportion of health care workers caring for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) report symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress, according to a study published online March 23 in JAMA Network Open.

Jianbo Lai, from the First Affiliated Hospital at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, China, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey to examine the magnitude of mental health outcomes and associated factors among health care workers treating patients exposed to COVID-19 in China. Data were included from 1,257 health care workers in 34 hospitals from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2020.

The researchers found that a considerable proportion of participants reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress (50.4, 44.6, 34.0, and 71.5 percent, respectively). More severe degrees of all measurements of mental health symptoms were reported by nurses, women, frontline health care workers, and those working in Wuhan than other health care workers. Compared with those in Wuhan, participants from outside Hubei province had a lower risk for experiencing symptoms of distress (odds ratio, 0.62) in a multivariable analysis. Higher risks for symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress were seen for frontline health care workers engaged in direct diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients with COVID-19 (odds ratios, 1.52, 1.57, 2.97, and 1.60, respectively).

"Special interventions to promote mental well-being in health care workers exposed to COVID-19 need to be immediately implemented, with women, nurses, and frontline workers requiring particular attention," the authors write.

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