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Mental Health Disorders Common Among ICU Staff During COVID-19

THURSDAY, Jan. 14, 2021 -- Probable mental health disorders are common among intensive care unit (ICU) staff working in English hospitals during June and July 2020, according to a study published online Jan. 13 in Occupational Medicine.

Neil Greenberg, M.D., from King's College London, and colleagues identified rates of probable mental health disorders among staff working in ICUs from nine English hospitals during June and July 2020. Staff were surveyed using an anonymized web-based survey that included standardized questionnaires for depression, anxiety symptoms, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), well-being, and alcohol use; the survey was completed by 709 participants (41 percent doctors, 49 percent nurses, 10 percent other health care staff).

The researchers found that 59 percent of respondents reported good well-being, but 45 percent met the threshold for probable clinical significance on one or more measures of severe depression, PTSD, severe anxiety, or problem drinking (6, 40, 11, and 7 percent, respectively). Overall, 13 percent reported frequent thoughts of being better off dead or hurting themselves in the previous two weeks. Across a range of measures, doctors reported better mental health than nurses.

"Our results highlight the potential profound impact that COVID-19 has had on the mental health of frontline U.K. staff and indicate an urgent need for a national strategy to protect staff mental health and decrease the risk of functional impairment of ICU staff while they carry out their essential work during COVID-19 and beyond," Greenberg said in a statement.

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