Protective and Risk Factors for Medical and Nursing Staff Suffering From Psychological Symptoms During COVID-19

Background: With the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic in China, the general public but also medical staff were confronted with psychological challenges, suffering from the highly infectious and unknown characteristics of COVID-19. In this study, we surveyed psychological symptoms including anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders in medical staff.

Method: A questionnaire star/WeChat link-based survey assessing the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale, Patient Health Questionnaire-9 depression, the Insomnia Severity Index, Social Support scales in addition to lifestyle, and income level was conducted and included 8,288 medical staff from 24 provinces in China. Pearson Chi-square and Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to evaluate single risk factors and significant differences in psychological symptoms before and during the outbreak of COVID-19. Binary logistic regression analyses were conducted for the risk factors of anxiety, depression, and sleep disorder symptoms.

Results: Medical staff had a high incidence of psychological symptoms, which was more prominent during the COVID-19 epidemic. Comparatively, females, nurses, first-line department, never exercised, and low income were risk factors for psychological symptoms. Social support including objective support, subjective support, support utility, and regular sports over 3 times per week were protective and manageable elements that could protect from and manage the psychological symptoms of medical staff.

Conclusion: The susceptibility of psychological symptoms among medical staff should be of concern to policymakers and the public in the long-term, and the aggravation of mental health problems of medical staff could be eased by providing adequate social support during and after the COVID-19 outbreak.

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