BMJ Open. 2021 Apr 1;11(4):e049996. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049996.
OBJECTIVES: To examine whether engagement in COVID-19-related work was associated with an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms among the staff members working in a designated medical institution for COVID-19 in Tokyo, Japan.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional study.
SETTING: Data were obtained from a health survey conducted in July 2020 among the staff members of a designated medical institution for COVID-19 in Tokyo, Japan.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1228 hospital workers.
EXPOSURE OF INTEREST: Engagement in COVID-19-related work (qualitatively (ie, the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection at work or affiliation to related departments) as well as quantitatively (ie, working hours)) and job categories.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Depressive symptoms.
RESULTS: There was no significant association between depressive symptoms and engagement in work with potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or affiliation to COVID-19-related departments. However, working for longer hours in March/April, when Japan witnessed a large number of infected cases, was significantly associated with depressive symptoms (≥11 hours/day: prevalence ratio (PR)=1.45, 95% CI=1.06 to 1.99, compared with ≤8 hours/day). Nurses were more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than did doctors (PR=1.70, 95% CI=1.14 to 2.54).
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection at work or having an affiliation to related departments might not be linked with a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms among Japanese hospital workers; contrarily, long working hours appeared to increase the prevalence of depressive symptoms.