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1.
Aust N Z J Psychiatry ; : 48674221075540, 2022 Feb 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1673645

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To identify the prevalence and predictors of (a) thoughts of suicide or self-harm among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and (b) help-seeking among those healthcare workers with thoughts of suicide or self-harm. METHOD: Analysis of data from the Australian COVID-19 Frontline Healthcare Workers Study, an online survey of healthcare workers conducted during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Outcomes of interest were thoughts of suicide or self-harm as measured through the Patient Health Questionnaire for depression and help-seeking behaviours. RESULTS: Overall, 819 (10.5%) of 7795 healthcare workers reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm over a 2-week period. Healthcare workers with these thoughts experienced higher rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout than their peers. In multivariable models, the odds of suicide or self-harm thoughts were higher among workers who had friends or family infected with COVID-19 (odds ratio = 1.24, 95% confidence interval = [1.06, 1.47]), were living alone (odds ratio = 1.32, 95% confidence interval = [1.06, 1.64]), younger (⩽30 years cf. >50 years; odds ratio = 1.70, 95% confidence interval = 1.36-2.13), male (odds ratio = 1.81, 95% confidence interval = [1.49, 2.20]), had increased alcohol use (odds ratio = 1.58, 95% confidence interval = [1.35, 1.86]), poor physical health (odds ratio = 1.62, 95% confidence interval = [1.36, 1.92]), increased income worries (odds ratio = 1.81, 95% confidence interval = [1.54, 2.12]) or prior mental illness (odds ratio = 3.27, 95% confidence interval = [2.80, 3.82]). Having dependent children was protective (odds ratio = 0.75, 95% confidence interval = [0.61, 0.92]). Fewer than half (388/819) of the healthcare workers who reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm sought professional support. Healthcare workers with thoughts of suicide or self-harm were more likely to seek support if they were younger (⩽30 years cf. >50 years; odds ratio = 1.78, 95% confidence interval = [1.13, 2.82]) or had prior mental health concerns (odds ratio = 4.47, 95% confidence interval = [3.25, 6.14]). CONCLUSION: One in 10 Australian healthcare workers reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm during the pandemic, with certain groups being more vulnerable. Most healthcare workers with thoughts of suicide or self-harm did not seek professional help. Strong and sustained action to protect the safety of healthcare workers, and provide meaningful support, is urgently needed.

2.
SSM Ment Health ; 2: 100053, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1560805

ABSTRACT

Frontline healthcare workers have experienced detrimental mental health impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic including anxiety, emotional distress, stress, fatigue, and burnout. But little is known about how these healthcare professionals take care of their own mental health in the midst of considerable personal, occupational and social disruption. In this article, we use qualitative data from an Australian national survey to examine the self-care strategies frontline healthcare professionals employed to manage their mental health and wellbeing during the crisis. Findings reveal how healthcare workers sought to adjust to disruption by adopting new self-care practices and mindsets, while encountering numerous personal and professional struggles that undermined their capacity for self-care. Feeling socially connected and valued were critical dimensions of caring for self, illustrating the importance of locating self-care in the social domain. These findings, we argue, highlight the need to expand conceptions of self-care away from those that focus primarily on the individual towards approaches that situate self care as collective and relational.

3.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(19)2021 Sep 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1444180

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified existing workplace stresses and created new challenges for people working on the healthcare frontline, including rapid workplace changes and increasing uncertainty at work, along with fear of contracting the virus. The purpose of this study is to examine the workplace challenges described by Australian frontline health workers during the pandemic. Drawing on a national online anonymous survey of 9518 healthcare workers, we analysed free-text responses to the question: "What did you find to be the main challenges that you faced during the pandemic?" A qualitative content analysis was undertaken. We identified five key themes relating to participant experiences of workplace challenges. These were: Work-life imbalance; Following orders or caring for patients; Unpredictability, disruption, and inconsistency at work; The right to be safe at work; and (Un)preparedness in the workplace. We argue that working during the COVID-19 pandemic illuminated existing occupational health and safety issues that have serious implications for job satisfaction, health workforce retention, and ultimately, patient care.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Australia/epidemiology , Health Personnel , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
4.
Gen Psychiatr ; 34(5): e100577, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1405225

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a profound and prolonged impact on healthcare services and healthcare workers. AIMS: The Australian COVID-19 Frontline Healthcare Workers Study aimed to investigate the severity and prevalence of mental health issues, as well as the social, workplace and financial disruptions experienced by Australian healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: A nationwide, voluntary, anonymous, single timepoint, online survey was conducted between 27 August and 23 October 2020. Individuals self-identifying as frontline healthcare workers in secondary or primary care were invited to participate. Participants were recruited through health organisations, professional associations or colleges, universities, government contacts and national media. Demographics, home and work situation, health and psychological well-being data were collected. RESULTS: A total of 9518 survey responses were received; of the 9518 participants, 7846 (82.4%) participants reported complete data. With regard to age, 4110 (52.4%) participants were younger than 40 years; 6344 (80.9%) participants were women. Participants were nurses (n=3088, 39.4%), doctors (n=2436, 31.1%), allied health staff (n=1314, 16.7%) or in other roles (n=523, 6.7%). In addition, 1250 (15.9%) participants worked in primary care. Objectively measured mental health symptoms were common: mild to severe anxiety (n=4694, 59.8%), moderate to severe burnout (n=5458, 70.9%) and mild to severe depression (n=4495, 57.3%). Participants were highly resilient (mean (SD)=3.2 (0.66)). Predictors for worse outcomes on all scales included female gender; younger age; pre-existing psychiatric condition; experiencing relationship problems; nursing, allied health or other roles; frontline area; being worried about being blamed by colleagues and working with patients with COVID-19. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with significant mental health symptoms in frontline healthcare workers. Crisis preparedness together with policies and practices addressing psychological well-being are needed.

5.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(17)2021 09 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1390630

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 crisis has caused prolonged and extreme demands on healthcare services. This study investigates the types and prevalence of occupational disruptions, and associated symptoms of mental illness, among Australian frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: A national cross-sectional online survey was conducted between 27 August and 23 October 2020. Frontline healthcare workers were invited to participate via dissemination from major health organisations, professional associations or colleges, universities, government contacts, and national media. Data were collected on demographics, home and work situations, and validated scales of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and burnout. RESULTS: Complete responses were received from 7846 healthcare workers (82.4%). Most respondents were female (80.9%) and resided in the Australian state of Victoria (85.2%). Changes to working conditions were common, with 48.5% reporting altered paid or unpaid hours, and many redeployed (16.8%) or changing work roles (27.3%). Nearly a third (30.8%) had experienced a reduction in household income during the pandemic. Symptoms of mental illness were common, being present in 62.1% of participants. Many respondents felt well supported by their workplaces (68.3%) and believed that workplace communication was timely and useful (74.4%). Participants who felt well supported by their organisation had approximately half the risk of experiencing moderate to severe anxiety, depression, burnout, and PTSD. Half (50.4%) of respondents indicated a need for additional training in using personal protective equipment and/or caring for patients with COVID-19. CONCLUSIONS: Occupational disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic occurred commonly in health organisations and were associated with worse mental health outcomes in the Australian health workforce. Feeling well supported was associated with significantly fewer adverse mental health outcomes. Crisis preparedness focusing on the provision of timely and useful communication and support is essential in current and future crises.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Anxiety , Australia/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Depression , Female , Health Personnel , Humans , Mental Health , SARS-CoV-2
6.
Gen Hosp Psychiatry ; 72: 124-130, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1364025

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The Australian COVID-19 Frontline Healthcare Workers Study investigated coping strategies and help-seeking behaviours, and their relationship to mental health symptoms experienced by Australian healthcare workers (HCWs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Australian HCWs were invited to participate a nationwide, voluntary, anonymous, single time-point, online survey between 27th August and 23rd October 2020. Complete responses on demographics, home and work situation, and measures of health and psychological wellbeing were received from 7846 participants. RESULTS: The most commonly reported adaptive coping strategies were maintaining exercise (44.9%) and social connections (31.7%). Over a quarter of HCWs (26.3%) reported increased alcohol use which was associated with a history of poor mental health and worse personal relationships. Few used psychological wellbeing apps or sought professional help; those who did were more likely to be suffering from moderate to severe symptoms of mental illness. People living in Victoria, in regional areas, and those with children at home were significantly less likely to report adaptive coping strategies. CONCLUSIONS: Personal, social, and workplace predictors of coping strategies and help-seeking behaviour during the pandemic were identified. Use of maladaptive coping strategies and low rates of professional help-seeking indicate an urgent need to understand the effectiveness of, and the barriers and enablers of accessing, different coping strategies.


Subject(s)
Adaptation, Psychological , COVID-19 , Health Personnel , Pandemics , Psychological Distress , Adult , Australia/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/psychology , COVID-19/therapy , Female , Health Personnel/psychology , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Help-Seeking Behavior , Humans , Male , Mental Disorders/epidemiology , Middle Aged , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
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