Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Prolonged Stress Causes Depression in Frontline Workers Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic. A Repeated Cross-Sectional Study

Version 1 : Received: 5 May 2021 / Approved: 7 May 2021 / Online: 7 May 2021 (09:12:57 CEST)

How to cite: Magnavita, N.; Soave, P.M.; Antonelli, M. Prolonged Stress Causes Depression in Frontline Workers Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic. A Repeated Cross-Sectional Study. Preprints 2021, 2021050129 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0129.v1). Magnavita, N.; Soave, P.M.; Antonelli, M. Prolonged Stress Causes Depression in Frontline Workers Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic. A Repeated Cross-Sectional Study. Preprints 2021, 2021050129 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0129.v1).

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely tested the mental health of frontline health care workers. A repeated cross-sectional study can provide information on how their mental health evolved during the various phases of the pandemic. The intensivists of a COVID-19 hub hospital in Rome were investigated with a baseline survey during the first wave of the pandemic in April 2020 and were contacted again in December 2020, during the second wave. 152 of the 205 eligible workers responded to an online questionnaire designed to measure procedural justice, occupational stress (effort/reward imbalance), sleep quality, anxiety, depression, burnout, job satisfaction, happiness, and turnover intention. Workers reported a further increase in workload and compassion fatigue, which had already risen during the first wave, and a marked reduction in the time devoted to meditation and mental activities. A low level of confidence in the adequacy of safety procedures and the need to work in isolation, together with an increased workload and lack of time for meditation were the most significant predictors of occupational stress in a stepwise linear regression model. Occupational stress was, in turn, a significant predictor of insomnia, anxiety, low job satisfaction, burnout, and intention to leave the hospital. The number of workers manifesting symptoms of depression increased significantly to exceed 60%. Action to prevent occupational risks and enhance individual resilience cannot be postponed.

Keywords

infectious disease; organizational justice; stress; loneliness; compassion fatigue; meditation; prayer; insomnia; mental health; perspective study; emergency

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