This article was originally published here
Psychiatry. 2021 Jul 30:1-16. doi: 10.1080/00332747.2021.1940469. Online ahead of print.
Objective: This study examines Argentinean health care workers in order to 1) test self-perceived job performance levels and the presence of psychological symptoms compatible with common mental disorders, and 2) examine within-person changes in general discomfort and psychological distress, adjusting for demographic factors, region, and health-related factors during two time points of the COVID-19 pandemic.Method: This longitudinal study comprised 305 healthcare workers who completed a survey at two time points approximately 4 months apart. We used the General Health Questionnaire and the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale to measure mental health outcomes. To address the first aim we calculated differences (Student’s t test for paired samples) and correlations (Pearson’s r coefficient). To address the second aim we used fixed effects model by means of a multilevel approach, a linear model that considers dependency in the data.Results: Self-perceived job performance deteriorated across time. From the first measurement to the four-month follow-up, more health care workers presented common mental disorders (40% vs 45.57%), depression, and/or anxiety (52.46% vs 62.62%). A meaningful worsening of mental health was observed in healthcare workers who expressed concern about being infected with COVID-19, whether asymptomatic (greater general discomfort and psychological distress) or symptomatic (greater general discomfort). Likewise, there were significant interactions between a history of mental disorder and concern about COVID-19 infection.Conclusions: Among healthcare workers, the uncertainty about the COVID-19 infection may have larger negative mental health impacts than actually being infected.