Study reveals mental health of medical personnel working with COVID-19 patients

medical personnel
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Medical personnel treating coronavirus cases in China have higher rates of anxiety and other mental health symptoms than the general population, according to a new study in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ning Sun of Ningbo College of Health Science in Ningbo China, and colleagues.

During the height of China's COVID-19 outbreak this year, more than 30,000 medical personnel from around China provided direct support to critically ill COVID-19 patients in Hubei province, the epicenter of the pandemic. These were confronted by stressors not typical to their usual jobs. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that the psychological toll of being on the front line of this pandemic may lead to an uptick in among healthcare providers.

In the new study, 560 medical personnel from 12 hospitals in eight provinces and cities across China completed an online questionnaire regarding their mental health status. The survey, carried out in January and February 2020, collected , information about COVID-19 exposure and work, and used the well-established Symptom-Checklist-90 (SCL-90) to quantify mental health symptoms. The subjects were 75 percent nurses and 25 percent doctors, with 72 percent being female.

The healthcare providers surveyed scored higher on scales of somatization (experiencing physical symptoms of psychiatric conditions), obsessive-compulsive symptoms, anxiety, phobic anxiety and psychoticism compared to a national average (p<0.05). They also scored lower on a scale of interpersonal sensitivity (p<0.01). The researchers identified several factors that predicted mental health status (p<0.05), including whether a clinician had worked in Hubei province, their level of concern that they had been infected, and their age. However, the study is limited in that it did not directly compare doctors working with COVID patients to doctors not working with COVID patients.

The authors add: "The overall mental health status of medical personnel responding to new coronavirus pneumonia is generally higher than that of the norm group in China. The results of this study should contribute to measures to alleviate the psychological pressures on medical personnel dealing with the new coronavirus epidemic in China."


Explore further

Follow the latest news on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

More information: Xing J, Sun N, Xu J, Geng S, Li Y (2020) Study of the mental health status of medical personnel dealing with new coronavirus pneumonia. PLoS ONE 15(5): e0233145. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233145
Journal information: PLoS ONE

Citation: Study reveals mental health of medical personnel working with COVID-19 patients (2020, May 19) retrieved 6 July 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-reveals-mental-health-medical-personnel.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
15 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments