Symptoms in health care workers during the covid-19 epidemic. A cross-sectional survey

Nicola Magnavita, Giovanni Tripepi, Reparata Rosa Di Prinzio

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In March–April 2020, the Corona Virus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic suddenly hit Italian healthcare facilities and in some of them many staff members became infected. In this work 595 health care workers from a public company were tested for Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (82 positive) and asked to complete a questionnaire on early COVID-19 symptoms. Respiratory symptoms were present in 56.1% of cases. Anosmia and dysgeusia in COVID-19 cases were found to have an odds ratio (OR) = 100.7 (95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 26.5–382.6) and an OR = 51.8 (95%CI 16.6–161.9), respectively. About one in three of the cases (29.3%) never manifested symptoms. Anxiety was reported by 16.6% of COVID-19 cases and depression by 20.3%, with a significant increase in the estimated risk (OR = 4.3; 95%CI = 2.4–7.4 for anxiety, OR = 3.5; 95%CI = 2.0–6.0 for depression). In cases, sleep was a significant moderating factor in the relationship between occupational stress, or organizational justice, and anxiety. The early diagnosis of COVID-19 in health care workers, must consider, in addition to respiratory disorders and fever, anosmia, dysgeusia, exhaustion, myalgias and enteric disorders. The frequency of anxiety and depression disorders in the population examined was not higher than that commonly recorded in the same company during periodic checks in the years preceding the epidemic. In COVID-19 cases there was a significant risk of anxiety, especially in those who had low sleep quality. Mental health support and improvement interventions must mainly concern workers with positive tests and should also tend to improve sleep quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5218
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2020


  • Anosmia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dysgeusia
  • Effort/reward imbalance
  • Occupational disease
  • Occupational epidemiology
  • Occupational stress
  • Organizational justice
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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