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Study shows COVID-19 continues to devastate healthcare workers

COVID-19

A new systematic review of 65 studies from around the world, adding up to a total of 97,333 healthcare workers, has revealed that one-in-five have experienced depression, anxiety, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during this era of COVID-19 pandemic globally.

Dr Yufei Li, Dr Nathaniel Scherer, and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, U.K., presented these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 10, copied to the Ghana News Agency.

The pandemic has posed significant challenges for healthcare workers, with many fearing for their own safety, while facing a high workload and limited psychological support.

It said previous analyses of data from multiple studies have revealed high rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD among health care workers during the pandemic, but those reviews did not adequately address the many relevant studies conducted in China, where the first COVID-19 outbreak occurred.

To address that gap, Dr Li, Dr Scherer, and colleagues carried out a systematic search of studies in both English and Chinese that were conducted from December 2019 to August 2020 and addressed prevalence of mental disorders in health care workers.

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They identified 65 suitable studies from 21 countries, involving a total of 97,333 healthcare workers.

It said by pooling and statistically analysing data from all 65 studies, the researchers estimated that 21.7 per cent of the healthcare workers involved in the studies experienced depression during the pandemic, 22.1 percent anxiety, and 21.5 percent PTSD.

Studies conducted in the Middle East showed the highest pooled rates of depression (34.6 percent) and anxiety (28.9 percent) suggesting that the pandemic impacted on the mental health of healthcare workers.

For comparison, the World Health Organisation estimated that 4.4 percent of the entire world population experienced depression, and 3.6 percent experienced anxiety disorders, including PTSD.

However, those estimates were determined through different methods and prior to the pandemic.

Nonetheless, the authors note, the new findings could help inform policy and initiatives to provide needed psychological support to health care workers.

The authors added: “This systematic review and meta-analysis provides, to date, the most comprehensive synthesis of depression, anxiety and PTSD prevalence amongst health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the unique inclusion of publications in both English and Chinese.”