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1.
BMC Infect Dis ; 22(1): 661, 2022 Jul 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1968550

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Regional labour markets and their properties are named as potential reasons for regional variations in levels of SARS-CoV-2 infections rates, but empirical evidence is missing. METHODS: Using nationwide data on notified laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections, we calculated weekly age-standardised incidence rates (ASIRs) for working-age populations at the regional level of Germany's 400 districts. Data covered nearly 2 years (March 2020 till December 2021), including four main waves of the pandemic. For each of the pandemic waves, we investigated regional differences in weekly ASIRs according to three regional labour market indicators: (1) employment rate, (2) employment by sector, and (3) capacity to work from home. We use spatial panel regression analysis, which incorporates geospatial information and accounts for regional clustering of infections. RESULTS: For all four pandemic waves under study, we found that regions with higher proportions of people in employment had higher ASIRs and a steeper increase of infections during the waves. Further, the composition of the workforce mattered: rates were higher in regions with larger secondary sectors or if opportunities of working from home were comparatively low. Associations remained consistent after adjusting for potential confounders, including a proxy measure of regional vaccination progress. CONCLUSIONS: If further validated by studies using individual-level data, our study calls for increased intervention efforts to improve protective measures at the workplace, particularly among workers of the secondary sector with no opportunities to work from home. It also points to the necessity of strengthening work and employment as essential components of pandemic preparedness plans.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Employment , Humans , Occupations , SARS-CoV-2 , Workplace
2.
Scand J Work Environ Health ; 2022 Jun 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1879594

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify the occupational risk for a SARS-CoV-2 infection in a nationwide sample of German workers during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (1 February-31 August 2020). METHODS: We used the data of 108 960 workers who participated in a COVID follow-up survey of the German National Cohort (NAKO). Occupational characteristics were derived from the German Classification of Occupations 2010 (Klassifikation der Berufe 2010). PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections were assessed from self-reports. Incidence rates (IR) and incidence rate ratios (IRR) were estimated using robust Poisson regression, adjusted for person-time at risk, age, sex, migration background, study center, working hours, and employment relationship. RESULTS: The IR was 3.7 infections per 1000 workers [95% confidence interval (CI) 3.3-4.1]. IR differed by occupational sector, with the highest rates observed in personal (IR 4.8, 95% CI 4.0-5.6) and business administration (IR 3.4, 95% CI 2.8-3.9) services and the lowest rates in occupations related to the production of goods (IR 2.0, 95% CI 1.5-2.6). Infections were more frequent among essential workers compared with workers in non-essential occupations (IRR 1.95, 95% CI 1.59-2.40) and among highly skilled compared with skilled professions (IRR 1.36, 95% CI 1.07-1.72). CONCLUSIONS: The results emphasize higher infection risks in essential occupations and personal-related services, especially in the healthcare sector. Additionally, we found evidence that infections were more common in higher occupational status positions at the beginning of the pandemic.

3.
Dtsch Arztebl Int ; 119(11): 179-187, 2022 03 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1879446

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have reported an increase in mental disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the exact reasons for this development are not well understood. In this study we investigate whether pandemic-related occupational and financial changes (e.g., reduced working hours, working from home, financial losses) were associated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety compared with the situation before the pandemic. METHODS: We analyzed data from the German National Cohort (NAKO) Study. Between May and November 2020, 161 849 study participants answered questions on their mental state and social circumstances. Their responses were compared with data from the baseline survey before the pandemic (2014-2019). Linear fixed-effects models were used to determine whether individual changes in the severity of symptoms of depression (PHQ-9) or anxiety (GAD-7) were associated with occupational/ financial changes (controlling for various covariates). RESULTS: The prevalence of moderate or severe symptoms of depression and anxiety increased by 2.4% and 1.5%, respectively, during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with the preceding years. The mean severity of the symptoms rose slightly. A pronounced increase in symptoms was observed among those who became unemployed during the pandemic (+ 1.16 points on the depression scale, 95% confidence interval [0.91; 1.41], range 0-27). Increases were also seen for reduced working hours with no short-time allowance, increased working hours, working from home, insecurity regarding employment, and financial strain. The deterioration in mental health was largely statistically explained by the occupational and financial changes investigated in the model. CONCLUSION: Depressive symptoms and anxiety disorders increased slightly in the study population during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Occupational and financial difficulties were an essential contributory factor. These strains should be taken into account both in the care of individual patients and in the planning of targeted prevention measures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Mental Disorders , Anxiety/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Depression/diagnosis , Depression/epidemiology , Humans , Mental Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
4.
Int J Public Health ; 67: 1604542, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1809646

ABSTRACT

Since the WHO's "Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan" in 1999, pandemic preparedness plans at the international and national level have been constantly adapted with the common goal to respond early to outbreaks, identify risks, and outline promising interventions for pandemic containment. Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts have started to reflect on the extent to which previous preparations have been helpful as well as on the gaps in pandemic preparedness planning. In the present commentary, we advocate for the inclusion of social and ethical factors in future pandemic planning-factors that have been insufficiently considered so far, although social determinants of infection risk and infectious disease severity contribute to aggravated social inequalities in health.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Disaster Planning , Health Equity , Influenza, Human , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Social Determinants of Health
5.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 591, 2022 03 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1808355

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Workplace-related stress is a major risk factor for mental and physical health problems and related sickness absence and productivity loss. Despite evidence regarding the effectiveness of different workplace-based interventions, the implementation of stress prevention interventions is rare, especially in micro and small-sized enterprises (MSE) with fewer than 50 employees. The joint research project "PragmatiKK"+ aims to identify and address the specific barriers to the implementation of stress prevention interventions in MSE. This study protocol describes a mixed method study design to evaluate the effectiveness of adapted stress prevention interventions and the implementation process via an integrated web-based platform ("System P") specifically targeted at MSE. METHODS: First, we develop a web-based intervention, which accounts for the specific working conditions in MSE and addresses stress prevention at a structural and behavioral level. Second, we use common methods of implementation research to perform an effect and process evaluation. We analyze the effectiveness of the web-based stress prevention interventions by comparing depressive symptoms at baseline and follow-up (after 6 months and 12 months). Indicators for a successful implementation process include acceptability, adoption, feasibility, reach, dose, and fidelity, which we will measure with quantitative web-based questionnaires and qualitative interviews. We will also analyze the accumulated usage data from the web-based platform. DISCUSSION: Collecting data on the implementation process and the effectiveness of a web-based intervention will help to identify and overcome common barriers to stress prevention in MSE. This can improve the mental health of employees in MSE, which constitute more than 90% of all enterprises in Germany. + Full Project Name: "PragmatiKK - Pragmatische Lösungen für die Implementation von Maßnahmen zur Stressprävention in Kleinst- und Kleinbetrieben "(= Pragmatic solutions for the implementation of stress prevention interventions in micro and small-sized enterprises). TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Register of Clinical Studies (DRKS): DRKS00026154 , date of registration: 2021-09-16.


Subject(s)
Internet-Based Intervention , Occupational Stress , Humans , Occupational Stress/prevention & control , Research Design , Surveys and Questionnaires , Workplace
6.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e060710, 2022 04 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1774972

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Recession. To prepare for future crises and to preserve public health, we conduct an overview of systematic reviews to examine the evidence on the effect of the Great Recession on population health. METHODS: We searched PubMed and Scopus for systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses focusing specifically on the impact of the Great Recession on population health (eg, mental health). Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses guidelines were followed throughout this review and critical appraisal of included systematic reviews was performed using Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews. RESULTS: Twenty-one studies were identified and consistently showed that the Great Recession was most risky to health, the more a country's economy was affected and the longer strict austerity policies were in place. Consequently, a deterioration of health was highest in countries that had implemented strict austerity measures (eg, Greece), but not in countries that rejected austerity measures (eg, Germany). Moreover, the impact of the Great Recession fell disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups such as people in unemployment, at risk of unemployment and those living in poverty. CONCLUSIONS: The experiences of the last economic crisis show that it is possible to limit the consequences for health. Prioritising mental healthcare and prevention, foregoing austerity measures in the healthcare system and protecting vulnerable groups are the most important lessons learnt. Moreover, given the further aggravating social inequalities, a health in all policies approach, based on a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment, is advised.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Population Health , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Economic Recession , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Systematic Reviews as Topic
7.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-328822

ABSTRACT

Background: Regional labour markets and their properties are named as potential reasons for regional variations in SARS-CoV-2 infections rates, but empirical evidence is missing. Methods Using notification data on laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections, we calculated weekly age-standardised incidence rates (ASIRs) for working-age populations at the regional level of Germany’s 400 districts. Data covered nearly two years (March 2020 till December 2021), including four main waves of the pandemic. For each of the pandemic waves, we investigated regional differences in weekly ASIRs according to three regional labour market indicators: (1) employment rate, (2) employment by sector, and (3) capacity to work from home. We use spatial panel regression analysis, which incorporates geospatial information and accounts for regional clustering of infections. Results For all four pandemic waves under study, we found that regions with higher proportions of people in employment had higher ASIRs and a steeper increase of infections during the waves. Further, the composition of the workforce mattered: rates were higher in regions with larger secondary sectors or if opportunities of working from home were comparatively low. Associations remained consistent after adjusting for potential confounders, including a proxy measure of regional vaccination progress. Conclusions If further validated by studies using individual-level data, our study calls for increased intervention efforts to improve protective measures at the workplace, particularly among workers of the secondary sector with no opportunities to work from home. It also points to the necessity of strengthening work and employment as essential components of pandemic preparedness plans.

8.
Int J Infect Dis ; 113: 344-346, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1555515

ABSTRACT

Over the course of the second pandemic wave in late 2020, new infections with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 shifted from the most affluent to the most deprived regions of Germany. This study investigated how this trend in infections played out for deaths due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by examining area-level socio-economic disparities in COVID-19-related mortality during the second pandemic wave in Germany. The analysis was based on nationwide data on notified deaths, which were linked to an area-based index of socio-economic deprivation. In the autumn and winter of 2020/2021, COVID-19-related deaths increased faster among residents in Germany's more deprived districts. From late 2020 onwards, the mortality risks of men and women in the most deprived districts were 1.52 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.27-1.82] and 1.44 (95% CI 1.19-1.73) times higher than among those in the most affluent districts, respectively, after adjustment for age, urbanization and population density. To promote health equity in the pandemic and beyond, deprived populations should receive increased attention in pandemic planning, infection control and disease prevention.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Health Promotion , Humans , Male , Pandemics , Poverty , SARS-CoV-2
9.
PLoS One ; 16(9): e0256660, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1398935

ABSTRACT

During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic mobile health applications indicating risks emerging from close contacts to infected persons have a large potential to interrupt transmission chains by automating contact tracing. Since its dispatch in Germany in June 2020 the Corona Warn App has been downloaded on 25.7 Mio smartphones by February 2021. To understand barriers to download and user fidelity in different sociodemographic groups we analysed data from five consecutive cross-sectional waves of the COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring survey from June to August 2020. Questions on the Corona Warn App included information on download, use, functionality, usability, and consequences of the app. Of the 4,960 participants (mean age 45.9 years, standard deviation 16.0, 50.4% female), 36.5% had downloaded the Corona Warn App. Adjusted analysis found that those who had downloaded the app were less likely to be female (Adjusted Odds Ratio for men 1.16 95% Confidence Interval [1.02;1.33]), less likely to be younger (Adjusted Odds Ratio for age 18 to 39 0.47 [0.32;0.59] Adjusted Odds Ratio for age 40 to 64 0.57 [0.46;0.69]), less likely to have a lower household income (AOR 0.55 [0.43;0.69]), and more likely to live in one of the Western federal states including Berlin (AOR 2.31 [1.90;2.82]). Willingness to disclose a positive test result and trust in data protection compliance of the Corona Warn App was significantly higher in older adults. Willingness to disclose also increased with higher educational degrees and income. This study supports the hypothesis of a digital divide that separates users and non-users of the Corona Warn App along a well-known health gap of education, income, and region.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Contact Tracing/methods , Mobile Applications/statistics & numerical data , Smartphone/statistics & numerical data , Surveys and Questionnaires , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics/prevention & control , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/physiology
10.
Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz ; 64(9): 1116-1124, 2021 Sep.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1321727

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: It has not been adequately answered whether the spread of SARS-CoV­2 is influenced by social and economic factors. Earlier studies generally looked at cumulative incidences up to the analysis date and did not take into account the development of the spread over time. This study therefore focuses on the regional dynamic of new infections and their relationship to socioeconomic factors. Based on the literature we describe the state of knowledge and present our own analyses of administrative data from Germany. METHODS: For this study, we examined regional progress data of reported COVID-19 cases for 401 cities and counties in Germany and associated them with socioeconomic characteristics of the areas. Age-standardized weekly incidence rates were calculated for the period from 3 February 2020 to 28 March 2021. Macroindicators were added from the INKAR database (e.g., income, employment rate, and crowding). RESULTS: While areas with higher incomes and lower poverty had higher incidences in the first and at the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic, they increased significantly in low-income regions from December 2020 on. Regions with a high proportion of gainfully employed people in general and especially those in the manufacturing sector had high incidences, especially in the second wave and at the beginning of the third wave. A low mean living space per inhabitant was related to higher incidence rates since November 2020. CONCLUSION: The regional temporal course of the pandemic correlates with social and economic indicators. A differentiated consideration of these differences could provide information on target group-specific protection and test strategies and help to identify social factors that generally favor infections. An English full-text version of this article is available at SpringerLink as Supplementary Information.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Socioeconomic Factors , COVID-19/epidemiology , Employment , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Income , Pandemics , Poverty
11.
J Occup Med Toxicol ; 16(1): 26, 2021 Jul 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1311252

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: It can be suspected that work in child care facilities is associated with an elevated exposure risk towards SARS-CoV-2 infections. It is still unclear under which conditions employees in those facilities can safely pursue their work. Preventive workplace-related measures to reduce transmission dynamics in this work environment need to be developed. These measures need to build on a solid scientific foundation and be ready for practical use at the same time. Therefore, the aim of the study is to present a participatory approach to identify, minimize, and eliminate workplace-specific COVID-19 transmission within child care. The approach presented combines quantitative as well as qualitative elements and includes a screening of critical workplace conditions and the development of preventive measures to foster a safe workplace design. METHODS: First, 428 employees of different child care facilities in a large German city reported their subjective risk of infection, fear of infection, and support received by the employer. Second, the participants commented in detail about high risk conditions during work. Third, employees provided suggestions for preventive measures. We conducted a qualitative analysis of free text answers to evaluate which aspects are perceived as critical from an employee perspective. RESULTS: Participants provided valuable and practicable ideas on how to design and improve preventive measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission in child care dealing with structural conditions, the interaction with the parents, the implementation of preventive measures and recommendations for policy makers. CONCLUSIONS: These new insights help to organize pandemic risk management in order to align theoretical based measures with the practical realization. We encourage researchers to adapt the approach presented to other work areas in order to foster participation of employees in work design to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

12.
Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz ; 64(3): 314-321, 2021 Mar.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1118202

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Unemployment is related to poverty and is a risk factor for poor health. The present study investigates if unemployment increases the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization for men and women of working age in Germany. METHODS: The study uses the health insurance data from AOK Rhineland/Hamburg (from 1 January 2020 until 18 June 2020) of 1,288,745 persons aged between 18 and 65. Four employment situations are distinguished: (1) regular employment, (2) low-wage employment with social support, (3) unemployment with receipt of unemployment benefit 1, and (4) long-term unemployment with receipt of unemployment benefit 2. COVID-19 hospitalizations are measured on the basis of the ICD codes U07.1 and U07.2 reported by the hospitals. Multiple logistic regression models are calculated (adjusted for age and sex). RESULTS: During the observation period, 1521 persons had hospitalization with COVID-19 as primary or secondary diagnosis. Overall, this corresponds to a rate of 118 cases per 100,000 insured persons. Rates varied by employment situation. Compared with regularly employed persons, the odds ratio for a hospitalization was 1.94 (CI 95%: 1.74-2.15) for long-term unemployment, 1.29 (0.86-1.94) for unemployed, and 1.33 (0.98-1.82) for low-wage employment. CONCLUSION: The results are in line with earlier studies from the USA and Great Britain reporting socioeconomic inequalities in COVID-19 hospitalization risk. This provides the first empirical support that socioeconomic inequalities in the severity of COVID-19 also exists in Germany.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Unemployment , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Employment , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Hospitalization , Humans , Insurance, Health , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2 , Socioeconomic Factors , United Kingdom , Young Adult
13.
Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz ; 64(3): 314-321, 2021 Mar.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1051345

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Unemployment is related to poverty and is a risk factor for poor health. The present study investigates if unemployment increases the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization for men and women of working age in Germany. METHODS: The study uses the health insurance data from AOK Rhineland/Hamburg (from 1 January 2020 until 18 June 2020) of 1,288,745 persons aged between 18 and 65. Four employment situations are distinguished: (1) regular employment, (2) low-wage employment with social support, (3) unemployment with receipt of unemployment benefit 1, and (4) long-term unemployment with receipt of unemployment benefit 2. COVID-19 hospitalizations are measured on the basis of the ICD codes U07.1 and U07.2 reported by the hospitals. Multiple logistic regression models are calculated (adjusted for age and sex). RESULTS: During the observation period, 1521 persons had hospitalization with COVID-19 as primary or secondary diagnosis. Overall, this corresponds to a rate of 118 cases per 100,000 insured persons. Rates varied by employment situation. Compared with regularly employed persons, the odds ratio for a hospitalization was 1.94 (CI 95%: 1.74-2.15) for long-term unemployment, 1.29 (0.86-1.94) for unemployed, and 1.33 (0.98-1.82) for low-wage employment. CONCLUSION: The results are in line with earlier studies from the USA and Great Britain reporting socioeconomic inequalities in COVID-19 hospitalization risk. This provides the first empirical support that socioeconomic inequalities in the severity of COVID-19 also exists in Germany.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Unemployment , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Employment , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Hospitalization , Humans , Insurance, Health , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2 , Socioeconomic Factors , United Kingdom , Young Adult
14.
J Epidemiol Community Health ; 2020 Nov 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-926389

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Research suggests that areas with high unemployment have lower rates of sickness absence, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. One assumption is that when unemployment is high people are more likely to work while being sick (discipline hypothesis). Against this background, we investigate the association between regional unemployment and sickness presenteeism. Second, we study interactions with factors of occupational disadvantage. METHODS: We combined survey data of 20 974 employees collected 2015 in 232 regions from 35 European countries with data on regional unemployment rates obtained from Eurostat. Presenteeism was assessed by the fraction of days worked while ill among all days with illness (presenteeism propensity). To investigate if unemployment was related to presenteeism, we estimated multi-level models (individuals nested in regions) that were adjusted for socio-demographic and occupational covariates to account for compositional differences of the regions. RESULTS: The mean presenteeism propensity was 34.8 (SD 40.4), indicating that workers chose presenteeism in 1 out of 3 days with sickness. We found that a change in unemployment by +10 percentage points was associated with a change in presenteeism by +5 percentage points (95% CI 1.2 to 8.6). This relationship was more pronounced among workers with low salary, low skill-level, and industrial and healthcare workers. CONCLUSION: Our results support the assumption that high unemployment elevates presenteeism, and that people in disadvantaged occupations are particularly affected. Policies managing presenteeism should consider the labour market context, particularly during the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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