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Occupational Stress and Quality of Life among Health Professionals during the COVID-19 Pandemic

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2022-0012

Introduction: Healthcare professionals, due to the nature of their work, have always experienced occupational stress, depression and low quality of life, which have been aggravated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aim: A large-scale cross-sectional descriptive correlational study aimed to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Greek healthcare professionals’ psychological status and quality of life.
Material and Methods: The study was conducted at “Attikon” General University Hospital and the 2nd Health Region in Athens, Greece. An assessment of anxiety and depression was carried out using the Zung’s Self-Rating Anxiety and Depression Scale (SAS/SDS). To assess the participants’ Quality of Life (QoL) the Short Form Survey-36 (SF-36) was used.
Results: 147 healthcare professionals were enrolled in the study. 70.7% experienced normal stress levels, 23.8% mild, 4.8% moderate and 0.7% severe. Mild depression was experienced by 34.7%, moderate by 10.2% and severe by 1.4%, with a 53.7% showing no depressive symptoms. Women experienced higher levels of anxiety and depression (p=0.001 & 0.001 respectively), and were 5.4 times more at risk to develop anxiety [Odds Ratio (OR) 5.357, 95% Confidence Interval (CI), 1.95-14.72: p=0.001] and 3.4 depression (OR, 3.365, 95% CI, 1.59- 7.12: p=0.002). Nurses and other professionals experienced higher stress and depression levels (p=0.004 & 0.040 respectively) than doctors. Participants reporting more exhaustion exhibited higher anxiety and depression levels (p=0.001). Compared to the pre-COVID-19 era, women (p=0.001), other health professionals (p=0.001) and those experiencing more physical burnout during COVID-19 (p=0.005) reported worse physical health. Anxiety and depression were negatively correlated with most sub scales of SF-36 except social functioning and bodily pain (p=0.001).
Conclusions: Healthcare professionals’ QoL has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and they experience higher levels of anxiety and depression. There is a need to develop strategies to address the negative psychological impact of this pandemic on healthcare professionals.

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