How Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect the Psychological State of Front-line Health Workers in Different Countries? 
 

Abstract 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every individual worldwide, especially frontline healthcare workers. Although treating patients and getting this pandemic under control is a priority, oftentimes the impact that the pandemic has on the mental health of frontline workers is overlooked. With the influx of patients, the mental health of workers is being worn down. Most countries are facing similar situations. Knowledge of how the mental health of workers facing the pandemic across different countries, however, is unknown. The aim of the study is to conduct a literature review that compares the mental health trends of frontline healthcare workers in various countries. It is possible that the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of frontline health workers varies between countries and this literature review aims to find out if this is the case. Previous research mentions comparisons of mental health of frontline workers to those of China, but not other countries. Journal articles from various countries were examined that included the importance of mental health, the relevance of COVID-19 knowledge, and how COVID-19 impacted the mental health of the frontline workers in order to carry out these comparisons. These journal  articles were found in ScienceDirect, National Institutes of Health and Google Scholar by searching ‘covid19,’ ‘mental health,’ ‘frontline workers,’ ‘questionnaire,’ and ‘countries.’ Based on the literature, frontline healthcare workers faced similar psychological impacts in most countries. Stress, anxiety, and depression were commonly found among these workers. Lack of preparedness, knowledge, and personal protective equipment along with the pressure from treating patients and anxiety for their own health were key factors that affected the mental health of frontline workers. Although there are mostly similarities, there were also some significant differences in the studies between specific countries. In the end, these factors that are common across countries should be addressed so that healthcare workers can continue working to the best of their abilities. 

Data

Since a literature review was conducted, we did not obtain any data from the countries ourselves. Instead, we extrapolated datasets from various articles to compare and contrasts the results that each country had. Countries commonly asked the same questions in regards to the mental health, preparedness in the face of the pandemic, and knowing of COVID-19 of frontline healthcare workers. Below we have included datasets from four different countries (Pakistan, the United States of America, China, the United Kingdom).

Figure 1. The measurements of Pakistan’s healthcare workers’ responses on how COVID-19 impacted their psychological state. 

Note: Data obtained from NCBI, Dataset of knowledge, attitude, practices and psychological implications of healthcare workers in Pakistan during COVID-19 pandemic [6].

Figure 2. Healthcare workers in New York City were surveyed to identify the causes of their psychological distress as seen in the figure above. 

Note: Data obtained from ScienceDirect, Psychological distress, coping behaviors, and preferences for support among New York healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic [5].

Figure 3. Medical staff from the different medical professions from the Hunan province expressed their emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic through questions.

Note: Data obtained from NCBI, Psychological Impact and Coping Strategies of Frontline Medical Staff in Hunan Between January and March 2020 During the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hubei, China [1].

Anxiety and fears amongst professionals

Feelings of anxiety and fear of the condition based on the notion that it is not treatable and that some HSCFWs had lost their lives were also reported.

 

"I had this feeling of anxiety and fear every day when I wake up to go to work ... it is mainly because the condition is untreatable and so many colleagues in the profession have lost their lives" Male General Nurse

"Everyone at work is fearful and anxious we really don't know what to do. No one has knowledge about this condition moreover, it is not treatable. With so many people losing their lives you really don't know your fate" A male mental health support worker

Figure 4. A study was conducted in the United Kingdom to investigate healthcare workers through the use of an interview-style questionnaire. The responses were analyzed thematically.

Note: Data obtained from Taylor & Francis Online, Exploring the challenges faced by frontline workers in health and social care amid the COVID-19 pandemic: experiences of frontline workers in the English Midlands region, UK [4].

The Effects of COVID-19 on the Mental Health of Frontline Healthcare Workers: A Literature Review

We investigated how the mental health of healthcare workers is impacted in the following six countries: the United States (New York City), the United Kingdom, Bahrain, China (Hunan province), Libya, and Pakistan.

Authors

Fabliha Hussain is an undergraduate in her third year at The City College of New York. She is majoring in Biology on the pre-med track, and she is dedicated to paving a path toward her intended career as a pediatrician. In addition to her studies, she believes in giving back to the community. In her free time, she loves to volunteer at Bideawee Animal Shelter, the Autoimmune Registry, and NYP Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital among others. She hopes to go to medical school once she graduates from CCNY.

Kenneth Vuong is an undergraduate in his third year at The City College of New York. He is majoring in Biology on the pre-med track, and he is a member of the CCAPP Advisory Board. His future aspirations include pursuing a medical degree so that he can help those in need. During his free time, he participates in community theatre and performs musical numbers. He is planning to take a gap year after graduating from CCNY and getting a Masters in Psychology.

References

  1.  Cai H, Tu B, Ma J, et al. Psychological Impact and Coping Strategies of Frontline Medical Staff in Hunan Between January and March 2020 During the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID‑19) in Hubei, China. Med Sci Monit. 2020;26:e924171. Published 2020 Apr 15. doi:10.12659/MSM.924171

  2.  Elhadi, M., Msherghi, A., Alkeelani, M., Zorgani, A., Zaid, A., Alsuyihili, A., . . . Amshai, A. (2020). Assessment of Healthcare Workers’ Levels of Preparedness and Awareness Regarding COVID-19 Infection in Low-Resource Settings. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 103(2), 828-833. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.20-0330

  3.  Jahrami, H., Bahammam, A. S., Algahtani, H., Ebrahim, A., Faris, M., Aleid, K., . . . Hasan, Z. (2020). The examination of sleep quality for frontline healthcare workers during the outbreak of COVID-19. Sleep and Breathing. doi:10.1007/s11325-020-02135-9

  4.  Nyashanu, M., Pfende, F., & Ekpenyong, M. (2020). Exploring the challenges faced by frontline workers in health and social care amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Experiences of frontline workers in the English Midlands region, UK. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 1-7. doi:10.1080/13561820.2020.1792425

  5.  Shechter, A., Diaz, F., Moise, N., Anstey, D. E., Ye, S., Agarwal, S., . . . Abdalla, M. (2020). Psychological distress, coping behaviors, and preferences for support among New York healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. General Hospital Psychiatry, 66, 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2020.06.007

  6.  Qasim, M., Awan, U. A., Afzal, M. S., Saqib, M. A., Siddiqui, S., & Ahmed, H. (2020). Dataset of knowledge, attitude, practices and psychological implications of healthcare workers in Pakistan during COVID-19 pandemic. Data in Brief, 32, 106234. doi:10.1016/j.dib.2020.106234