The cost of caring during recent epidemics: a rapid review of risk factors, psychological manifestations, and strategies for its treatment

Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2021 Jan-Mar;57(1):7-17. doi: 10.4415/ANN_21_01_02.


BACKGROUND: During epidemics, health care workers (HCWs) are particularly exposed to the risk of secondary trauma. If not effectively addressed, the consequences of such psychological distress can progress to more severe conditions.

METHODS: A systematic search of several databases on the effect of SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 epidemics on the mental health of HCWs was performed according to both the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions and the WHO Rapid Review Guide for Health Policy and Systems Research.

RESULTS: The 77 reviewed studies highlighted that work organization and individual characteristics can add to mental health risk. Providing adequate training to prevent infection and prepare HCWs to handle the epidemic, strengthening team work to improve organization, and ensuring appropriate protective equipment is available can help prevent risk of psychiatric illness.

CONCLUSIONS: Monitoring and addressing through tailored interventions the mental health consequences of pandemics in HCWs is necessary.

PMID:33797399 | DOI:10.4415/ANN_21_01_02