Who Is Most At Risk Of Distress During COVID-19? Know What Researchers Say

London: Nurses and female health care workers are most at risk of experiencing psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, says a study, carried out by the University of Sheffield, UK.

Researchers assessed fixed factors such as demographic characteristics, age, sex and occupation as well as social psychological and infection-related factors in more than 143,000 health care workers from around the world. The review of 139 studies included data collected between 2000 and November 2020, The New Indian Express (TNIE) reported quoting PTI.

“Consistent evidence indicated that being female, a nurse, experiencing stigma and having contact or risk of contact with infected patients were the biggest risk factors for psychological distress among health care workers,” Dr Fuschia Sirois, Reader in Social and Health Psychology in the university and lead author of the study was quoted as saying.

Long-term effects

“By analysing data from previous infectious disease outbreaks such as SARS, bird flu and swine flu, it appears that distress for health care workers can persist for up to three years after the initial outbreak. As the world continues to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic it is so important that we identify the health care workers who are most at risk for distress and the factors that can be modified to reduce distress and improve resilience,” Sirois added.

New framework for health care providers

The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, have informed a new framework that health care providers can use to identify those most at risk of increased distress, as well as areas to target to help build resilience. This framework can help guide early interventions and ongoing monitoring.

“Personal and organisational social support, feeling in control, sufficient information about the outbreak and proper protection, training and resources, were associated with less psychological distress.

Dr Sirois and a team from the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust are now conducting a further study with National Health Service (NHS) workers using this new framework to help identify factors that could help to reduce distress during COVID-19.

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