Working in the Times of COVID-19. Psychological Impact of the Pandemic in Frontline Workers in Spain

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health - Journal Article

This study evaluates the psychological impact (PI) of the COVID-19 pandemic in frontline workers in Spain. Participants were 546 workers (296 healthcare workers, 105 media professionals, 89 grocery workers, and 83 protective service workers). They all completed online questionnaires assessing PI, sadness, concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and demographic and work-related variables. All groups but protective services workers showed higher PI levels than the general population. Healthcare and grocery workers were the most affected, with 73.6% and 65.2% of the participants, respectively, showing a severe PI. Women showed a higher PI level. Healthcare workers in the regions with higher COVID-19 incidences reported greater PI levels. The main concerns were being infected by COVID-19 or infecting others. Levels of concern correlated with higher PI levels. The protection equipment was generally reported as insufficient, which correlated with higher PI levels. Professionals reporting to overwork during the crisis (60% mass-media, 38% of healthcare and grocery and 21.7% of protective service) showed higher PI levels. In the healthcare group, taking care of patients with COVID-19 (77%) or of dying patients with COVID-19 (43.9%) was associated with higher PI levels. The perceived social recognition of their work was inversely related to PI. Most of the sample had not received psychological support. We suggest some organizational measures for frontline institutions, such as the periodical monitoring or inclusion of psychologists specialized in crisis-management to prevent negative symptoms and provide timely support.

Rocio Rodriguez-Rey, Helena Garrido-Hernansaiz, Nereida Bueno-Guerra
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