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Poor Sleep, Burnout Increase COVID-19 Risk in Health Care Workers

TUESDAY, March 23, 2021 -- Sleep problems and a high level of burnout are associated with increased odds of COVID-19 among health care workers (HCWs), according to a study published online March 22 in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

Hyunju Kim, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues administered a web-based survey to HCWs in six countries with a high frequency of workplace exposure from July 17 to Sept. 25, 2020. Information on demographics, sleep, burnout from work, and COVID-19 exposures was provided by participants. The associations between sleep, burnout, and COVID-19 were examined.

The researchers found 568 COVID-19 cases and 2,316 controls among 2,884 exposed HCWs. One-hour longer sleep duration at night was associated with 12 percent reduced odds of COVID-19 after adjustment for confounders. The odds of COVID-19 were increased 6 percent in association with daytime napping hours, but the association varied by country; in Spain, there was a nonsignificant inverse association. Having three sleep problems was associated with 88 percent greater odds of COVID-19 compared with having no sleep problems. Compared with reporting no burnout, reporting burnout "every day" was associated with increased odds of COVID-19, longer duration, and severity (odds ratios, 2.60, 2.98, and 3.26, respectively). After adjustment for frequency of COVID-19 exposures, these associations remained significant.

"Our results highlight the importance of health care professionals' well-being during the pandemic," the authors write. "Awareness of these risk factors in HCWs will be helpful in maintaining a healthy and productive workforce."

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