March 7, 2021

COVID-19-Related Stress Among Emergency Department Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant stress and mental health concerns among the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41% of U.S. adults are struggling with their mental health or substance use during this pandemic.

These mental health struggles are even greater for individuals with occupations that put them at greater risk of viral exposure, because knowingly facing such increased risks can cause significantly higher stress levels. A study recently published by the Annals of Internal MedicineCOVID-19-Related Stress Symptoms Among Emergency Department Personnel, explores this in more detail.

This study assesses symptoms of anxiety, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from COVID-19 work-related stressors among emergency department (ED) workers. Electronic surveys were used to capture self-reported symptoms among 1,606 emergency department workers – including nurses, physicians, advanced practice providers (APPs) and non-clinical ED personnel – from 15 states.

The survey found that 46% of ED workers reported symptoms of anxiety and burnout from their work. Approximately 19% screened positive for elevated PTSD risk, with female respondents twice as likely to screen positive than men.

After receiving antibody tests, 54% of respondents somewhat agreed, agreed, or strongly agreed that knowledge of their immune system decreased their anxiety.

At the start of the pandemic, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published studies on the mental health impacts faced by Chinese and Italian healthcare workers who worked on the frontline of the pandemic.

It has been clear from the start that this pandemic would take a toll on healthcare workers, and this latest study reiterates the need to provide support – whatever form that may take – for healthcare workers.

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