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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and well-being of UK healthcare workers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

James Gilleen, Aida Santaolalla, Lorena Valdearenas, Clara Salice, Montserrat Fusté

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere88
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number3

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Every positive factor also significantly worsened across the cohort from pre- to during COVID-19 (see Supplementary Table 8). Pre-COVID-19, front-line workers felt more resilient, more 'positive' and tech confident, and that their team was more effective than non-front-line workers. However, front-line workers had significantly greater declines in feeling resilient, as well as remaining positive, and feeling supported compared with non-front-line workers. Publisher Copyright: Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Background The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant psychological impact on healthcare workers (HCWs). Aims There is an urgent need to understand the risk and protective factors associated with poor mental well-being of UK HCWs working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method Shortly after the April 2020 UK COVID-19 peak 2773 HCWs completed a survey containing measures of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and stress, as well as questions around potential predictors such as roles, COVID-19 risk perception and workplace-related factors. Respondents were classified as high or low symptomatic on each scale and logistic regression revealed factors associated with severe psychiatric symptoms. Change in well-being from pre- to during COVID-19 was also quantified. Results Nearlya third of HCWs reported moderate to severe levels of anxiety and depression, and the number reporting very high symptoms was more than quadruple that pre-COVID-19. Several controllable factors were associated with the most severe level of psychiatric symptoms: insufficient personal protective equipment availability, workplace preparation, training and communication, and higher workload. Being female, 'front line', previous psychiatric diagnoses, traumatic events, and being an allied HCW or manager were also significantly associated with severe psychiatric symptoms. Sharing stress, resilience and ethical support for treatment decisions were significantly associated with low psychiatric symptoms. Front-line workers showed greater worsening of mental health compared with non-front-line HCWs. Conclusions Poor mental well-being was prevalent during the COVID-19 response, however, controllable factors associated with severe psychiatric symptoms are available to be targeted to reduce the detrimental impact of COVID-19 and other pandemics on HCW mental health.

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