Perceived stress and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among intensive care unit staff caring for severely ill coronavirus disease 2019 patients during the pandemic: a national study

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Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2021 Aug 21;20(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s12991-021-00363-1.


BACKGROUND: Intensive care unit (ICU) staff have faced unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which could significantly affect their mental health and well-being. The present study aimed to investigate perceived stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms reported by ICU staff working directly with COVID-19 patients.

METHODS: The Perceived Stress Scale was used to assess perceived stress, the PTSD Diagnostic Scale for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) was used to determine PTSD symptoms, and a sociodemographic questionnaire was used to record different sociodemographic variables.

RESULTS: Altogether, 124 participants (57.2% of whom were men) were included in the analysis. The majority of participants perceived working in the ICU with COVID-19 patients as moderately to severely stressful. Moreover, 71.4% of doctors and 74.4% of nurses experienced moderate-to-severe perceived stress. The staff with previous ICU experience were less likely to have a probable diagnosis of PTSD than those without previous ICU experience.

CONCLUSIONS: Assessing perceived stress levels and PTSD among ICU staff may enhance our understanding of COVID-19-induced mental health challenges. Specific strategies to enhance ICU staff’s mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic should be employed and monitored regularly. Interventions aimed at alleviating sources of anxiety in a high-stress environment may reduce the likelihood of developing PTSD.

PMID:34419094 | DOI:10.1186/s12991-021-00363-1