Psychological well-being of Australian hospital clinical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic
journal contributionposted on 17.01.2021, 23:47 by Sara Holton, Karen Wynter, Melody Trueman, Suellen Bruce, Susan Sweeney, Shane Crowe, Adrian Dabscheck, Paul Eleftheriou, Sarah Booth, Danielle Hitch, Catherine M Said, Kimberley J Haines, Bodil Rasmussen
ObjectiveThis study assessed the psychological well-being of Australian hospital clinical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.MethodsAn anonymous online cross-sectional survey was conducted in a large metropolitan tertiary health service located in Melbourne, Australia. The survey was completed by nurses, midwives, doctors and allied health (AH) staff between 15 May and 10 June 2020. The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale - 21 items (DASS-21) assessed the psychological well-being of respondents in the previous week.ResultsIn all, 668 people responded to the survey (nurses/midwives, n=391; doctors, n=138; AH staff, n=139). Of these, 108 (16.2%) had direct contact with people with a COVID-19 diagnosis. Approximately one-quarter of respondents reported symptoms of psychological distress. Between 11% (AH staff) and 29% (nurses/midwives) had anxiety scores in the mild to extremely severe ranges. Nurses and midwives had significantly higher anxiety scores than doctors (P<0.001) and AH staff (P<0.001). Direct contact with people with a COVID-19 diagnosis (P<0.001) and being a nurse or midwife (P<0.001) were associated with higher anxiety scores. Higher ratings of the health service's pandemic response and staff support strategies were protective against depression (P<0.001), anxiety (P<0.05) and stress (P<0.001).ConclusionsThe COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on the psychological well-being of hospital clinical staff, particularly nurses and midwives. Staff would benefit from (additional) targeted supportive interventions during the current and future outbreaks of infectious diseases.What is known about the topic?The outbreak of COVID-19 is having, and will have, a considerable effect on health services. No Australian data about the effect of COVID-19 on the psychological well-being of hospital clinical staff are available.What does this paper add?Australia healthcare providers have experienced considerable emotional distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly nurses and midwives and clinical staff who have had direct contact with people with a COVID-19 diagnosis. In this study, nurses and midwives had significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression and stress during the pandemic than general Australian adult population norms, and significantly more severe anxiety symptoms than medical and AH staff. Despite a lower number of COVID-19 cases and a lower death rate than in other countries, the proportion of Australian hospital clinical staff experiencing distress is similar to that found in other countries.What are the implications for practitioners?Targeted well-being interventions are required to support hospital clinical staff during the current and future outbreaks of infectious diseases and other 'crises' or adverse events.