A prospective cohort study of the psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline healthcare workers in New York City

Lauren A. Peccoralo, Robert H. Pietrzak, Jordyn H. Feingold, Shumayl Syed, Chi C. Chan, James W. Murrough, Carly Kaplan, Jaclyn Verity, Adriana Feder, Dennis S. Charney, Steven M. Southwick, Jonathan A. Ripp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: We sought to describe the course and correlates of psychological distress in frontline healthcare workers (FHCWs) during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City (NYC). Methods: A prospective cohort study of FHCWs at the Mount Sinai Hospital was conducted during the initial 2020 surge (T1) and 7 months later (T2). Psychological distress [i.e., positive screen for pandemic-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and/or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)], occupational and personal exposures to COVID-19, coping strategies, and psychosocial characteristics were assessed. Four courses of psychological distress response were identified: no/minimal, remitted, persistent, and new-onset. Multinomial logistic regression and relative importance analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with courses of distress. Results: Of 786 FHCWs, 126 (16.0%) FHCWs had persistent distress; 150 (19.1%) remitted distress; 35 (4.5%) new-onset distress; and 475 (60.4%) no/minimal distress. Relative to FHCWs with no/minimal distress, those with persistent distress reported greater relationship worries [19.8% relative variance explained (RVE)], pre-pandemic burnout (18.7% RVE), lower dispositional optimism (9.8% RVE), less emotional support (8.6% RVE), and feeling less valued by hospital leadership (8.4% RVE). Relative to FHCWs with remitted symptoms, those with persistent distress reported less emotional support (29.7% RVE), fewer years in practice (28.3% RVE), and psychiatric history (23.6% RVE). Conclusions: One-fifth of FHCWs in our study experienced psychological distress 7 months following the COVID-19 surge in NYC. Pandemic-related worries, pre-pandemic burnout, emotional support, and feeling valued by leaders were linked to persistent distress. Implications for prevention, treatment, and organizational efforts to mitigate distress in FHCWs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1291
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume95
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Burnout
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Healthcare workers
  • Mental Health
  • Psychological distress

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