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Mental Health Disorders Common Among ICU Staff During COVID-19

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Key Takeaways

  • During June and July 2020, probable mental health disorders are common among intensive care unit (ICU) staff working in English hospitals.
  • 45% of staff met the threshold for probable clinical significance on 1 or more measures of severe depression, PTSD, severe anxiety, or problem drinking.
  • Overall, 13% reported frequent thoughts of being better off dead or hurting themselves in the previous 2 weeks.

HealthDay News–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 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 9 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% doctors, 49% nurses, 10% other health care staff).

The researchers found that 59% of respondents reported good well-being, but 45% met the threshold for probable clinical significance on 1 or more measures of severe depression, PTSD, severe anxiety, or problem drinking (6%, 40%, 11%, and 7%, respectively). Overall, 13% reported frequent thoughts of being better off dead or hurting themselves in the previous 2 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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