The psychosocial impact of flu influenza pandemics on healthcare workers and lessons learnt for the COVID-19 emergency: a rapid review

Serena Barello, Anna Falcó-Pegueroles, Debora Rosa, Angela Tolotti, Guendalina Graffigna, Loris Bonetti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: During a pandemic, healthcare workers (HCWs) are essential to the health system response. Based on our knowledge, little information is available regarding the psychosocial impact on HCWs or interventions for supporting them during pandemics. Therefore, the study aimed to assess available literature on perceived stress and psychological responses to influenza pandemics in HCWs and identify implications for healthcare practice and future research. Methods: This is a rapid review of the literature. The review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Results: Across all the studies—both qualitative and quantitative—HCWs working during the epidemic reported frequent concerns regarding their own health and the fear of infecting their families, friends and colleagues. Moreover, social isolation, uncertainty, fears of stigmatization and reluctance to work or considering absenteeism were frequently reported. Moreover, many studies highlighted a high prevalence of high levels of stress, anxiety and depression symptoms, which could have long-term psychological implications in HCWs. Conclusions: This rapid review offers an overview of the major concerns regarding HCWs’ psychosocial well-being and possible preventive strategies, which could be useful for the current COVID-19 outbreak and similar future pandemics. Studies suggested to invest on preventive psychological, social, family and physical support and to guaranteeing reasonable work conditions and others in order to protect HCWs from the long-lasting psychological effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Health personnel
  • Nurse
  • Pandemics
  • Physician
  • Psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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