COVID-19 and Long Term Care

Collection of articles on COVID and LTC is available here

COVID-19 and Resident Care

Reopening the doors of Dutch nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis: results of an in-depth monitoring
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Koopmans RTCM, Verbeek H, Bielderman A, Janssen MM, Persoon A, Lesman-Leegte I, et al.
Int Psychogeriatr 2021 Apr 5:1-8.
OBJECTIVES: On May 11, the Dutch Government allowed 26 nursing homes to welcome 1 visitor per resident, after 2 months of lockdown. The study aimed to monitor in-depth the feasibility of the regulations and their impact on the well-being of residents, their visitors, and healthcare staff. DESIGN: Mixed-methods study in 5 of the 26 facilities; the facilities were affiliated to an academic network of nursing homes. PARTICIPANTS: Visitors and healthcare professionals. INTERVENTION: Allowing visitors using local regulations based on national guidelines. MEASUREMENTS: Digital questionnaire, analyzing documentation such as infection prevention control protocols, attending meetings of COVID-19 crisis teams, in-depth telephone or in-person interviews with visitors and healthcare professionals, and on-site observations. RESULTS: National guidelines were translated with great variety into local care practice. Healthcare professionals agreed that reopening would increase the well-being of the residents and their loved ones. However, there were also great worries for increasing workload, increasing the risk of emotional exhaustion, and the risk of COVID-19 infections. Compliance with local regulations was generally satisfactory, but maintaining social distance and correctly wearing face masks appeared to be difficult. Care staff remained ambivalent for fear of infections. In general, allowing visitors was experienced as having a positive impact on the well-being of all stakeholders. Nevertheless, some residents with dementia showed negative effects. CONCLUSION: The complete lockdown of Dutch nursing homes had a substantial impact on the well-being of the residents. The reopening was welcomed by all stakeholders, but provided a high organizational workload as well as feelings of ambivalence among care staff. In the second wave, a more tailored approach is being implemented. However, facilities are sometimes still struggling to find the right balance between infection control and well-being.

Quality Improvement

Proceedings from an International Virtual Townhall: Reflecting on the COVID-19 Pandemic: Themes from Long Term Care

Heckman GA, Kay K, Morrison A, Grabowski D, Hirdes J, Mor V, et al.
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2021/04.
Residents of long-term care (LTC) homes have suffered disproportionately during the Covid-19 pandemic, from the virus itself and often from the imposition of lockdown measures. Provincial Geriatrics Leadership Ontario, in collaboration with interRAI and the International Federation on Aging, hosted a virtual Town Hall on September 25 2020. The purpose of this event was to bring together international perspectives from researchers, clinicians, and policy experts to address important themes potentially amenable to timely policy interventions. This manuscript summarizes these themes and the ensuing discussions among 130 attendees from 5 continents. The disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on frail residents of LTC homes reflects a systematic lack of equitable prioritization by health system decision-makers around the world. The primary risk factors for an outbreak in a LTC home were outbreaks in the surrounding community, high staff and visitor traffic in large facilities, and crowding of residents in ageing buildings. Infection control measures must be prioritized in LTC homes, though care must be taken to protect frail and vulnerable residents from their overly blunt application that deprives residents from appropriate physical and psychosocial support. Staffing, in terms of overall numbers, training, and leadership skills, was inadequate. The built environment of LTC homes can be configured for both optimal resident well-being and infection control. Infection control and resident wellness need not be mutually exclusive. Improving outcomes for LTC residents requires more staffing with proper training and interprofessional leadership. All these initiatives must be underpinned by an effective quality assurance system based on standardized, comprehensive, accessible, and clinically relevant data, and which can support broad communities of practice capable of effecting real and meaningful change for frail older persons, wherever they chose to reside.; Residents of long-term care (LTC) homes have suffered disproportionately during the Covid-19 pandemic, from the virus itself and often from the imposition of lockdown measures. Provincial Geriatrics Leadership Ontario, in collaboration with interRAI and the International Federation on Aging, hosted a virtual Town Hall on September 25 2020. The purpose of this event was to bring together international perspectives from researchers, clinicians, and policy experts to address important themes potentially amenable to timely policy interventions. This manuscript summarizes these themes and the ensuing discussions among 130 attendees from 5 continents. The disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on frail residents of LTC homes reflects a systematic lack of equitable prioritization by health system decision-makers around the world. The primary risk factors for an outbreak in a LTC home were outbreaks in the surrounding community, high staff and visitor traffic in large facilities, and crowding of residents in ageing buildings. Infection control measures must be prioritized in LTC homes, though care must be taken to protect frail and vulnerable residents from their overly blunt application that deprives residents from appropriate physical and psychosocial support. Staffing, in terms of overall numbers, training, and leadership skills, was inadequate. The built environment of LTC homes can be configured for both optimal resident well-being and infection control. Infection control and resident wellness need not be mutually exclusive. Improving outcomes for LTC residents requires more staffing with proper training and interprofessional leadership. All these initiatives must be underpinned by an effective quality assurance system based on standardized, comprehensive, accessible, and clinically relevant data, and which can support broad communities of practice capable of effecting real and meaningful change for frail older persons, wherever they chose to reside.

The Metrics Matter: Improving Comparisons of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Nursing Homes
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Miller KEM, Gorges RJ, Konetzka RT, Van Houtven CH.
J Am Med Dir Assoc 2021 Mar 10.
OBJECTIVES: In the United States, nursing facility residents comprise fewer than 1% of the population but more than 40% of deaths due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Mitigating the enormous risk of COVID-19 to nursing home residents requires adequate data. The widely used Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 Nursing Home Dataset contains 2 derived statistics: Total Resident Confirmed COVID-19 Cases per 1000 Residents and Total Resident COVID-19 Deaths per 1000 Residents. These metrics provide a misleading picture, as facilities report cumulative counts of cases and deaths over different time periods but use a point-in-time measure as proxy for number of residents (number of occupied beds in a week), resulting in inflated statistics. We propose an alternative statistic to better illustrate the burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths across nursing facilities. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Using the CMS Nursing Home Compare and COVID-19 Nursing Home Datasets, we examined facilities with star ratings and COVID-19 data passing quality assurance checks for each reporting period from May 31 to August 16, 2020 (n = 11,115). METHODS: We derived an alternative measure of the number of COVID-19 cases per 1000 residents using the net change in weekly census. For each measure, we compared predicted number of cases/deaths by overall star rating using negative binomial regression with constant dispersion, controlling for county-level cases per capita and nursing home characteristics. RESULTS: The average number of cases per 1000 estimated residents using our method is lower compared with the metric using occupied beds as proxy for number of residents (44.8 compared with 66.6). We find similar results when examining number of COVID-19 deaths per 1000 residents. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Future research should estimate the number of residents served in nursing facilities when comparing COVID-19 cases/deaths in nursing facilities. Identifying appropriate metrics for facility-level comparisons is critical to protecting nursing home residents as the pandemic continues.

Health Care Administration and Organization

Elder Care Providers & COVID-19: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Global Ageing Network, Feb 2021
The coronavirus pandemic shed light on inequities among elder care providers in different parts of the world. These inequities include the financial resources needed, but not always available, to tackle the coronavirus and access needed resources, including medical care, workforce, training and education, testing, and technology. The pandemic also revealed how unprepared elder care systems were to respond promptly to challenges that require global coordination. The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a good example of this lack of preparedness. As the COVID-19 crisis developed, providers and policy makers faced urgent questions about how to keep the coronavirus out of care settings, identify infections as early as possible, and prevent spread of the virus.
To respond to these urgent challenges, providers implemented in-service staff training and education, changed their staffing patterns, or added handwashing and screening stations to protect residents and staff. Some new practices, while perhaps needed to save lives, seriously eroded quality of life for residents and clients.

Fatal Underfunding? Explaining COVID-19 Mortality in Spanish Nursing Homes
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Costa-Font J, Jiménez Martin S, Viola A.
J Aging Health 2021 Apr 5:8982643211003794.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted a disproportionate effect on older European populations living in nursing homes. This article discusses the ‘fatal underfunding hypothesis’, and reports an exploratory empirical analysis of the regional variation in nursing home fatalities during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain, one of the European countries with the highest number of nursing home fatalities. We draw on descriptive and multivariate regression analysis to examine the association between fatalities and measures of nursing home organisation, capacity and coordination plans alongside other characteristics. We document a correlation between regional nursing home fatalities (as a share of excess deaths) and a number of proxies for underfunding including nursing home size, occupancy rate and lower staff to a resident ratio (proxying understaffing). Our preliminary estimates reveal a 0.44 percentual point reduction in the share of nursing home fatalities for each additional staff per place in a nursing home consistent with a fatal underfunding hypothesis.

Prevalence and Spread

Results of a hospitalization policy of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic COVID-19-positive long-term care facility residents in the province of Salzburg-a report from the AGMT COVID-19 Registry
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Huemer F, Rinnerthaler G, Jörg B, Morre P, Stegbuchner B, Proksch E, et al.
Geroscience 2021 Apr 10:1-21.
COVID-19-associated case fatality rates up to 48% were reported among nursing facility residents. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, routine SARS-CoV-2 testing in long-term care facilities in the Province of Salzburg and centralized hospitalization in the COVID-19 unit of the Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg (Austria) irrespective of symptoms was implemented. Baseline characteristics and the course of COVID-19 disease were assessed among hospitalized long-term care facility residents within the COVID-19 Registry of the Austrian Group Medical Tumor Therapy (AGMT; NCT04351529). Between the 24(th) of March and the 20(th) of April 2020, 50 COVID-19-positive residents were hospitalized. The median age was 84.5 years (range: 79-88) and the median number of comorbidities and baseline medication classes was 6 (IQR: 4-7) and 5 (IQR: 3-6), respectively. At admission, 31 residents (62%) were symptomatic, nine residents (18%) pre-symptomatic whereas ten residents (20%) remained asymptomatic. The 30-day mortality rate from hospitalization was 32% and significantly higher in symptomatic residents at admission when compared to asymptomatic residents including pre-symptomatic residents (48% [95% CI: 27-63%] versus 5% [95% CI: 0-15%], p=0.006). The Early Warning Score (EWS) at admission was associated with 30-day mortality: high risk: 100%, intermediate risk: 50% (95% CI: 0-78%), and low risk: 21% (95% CI: 7-32%) (p<0.001). In light of comparably low mortality rates between asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic hospitalized COVID-19-positive residents, we suggest the supply of comparable intensity and quality of monitoring and care in long-term care facilities as an alternative to immediate hospitalization upon a positive COVID-19 test in asymptomatic residents.

Expanding frontiers of risk management: care safety in nursing home during COVID-19 pandemic
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Scopetti M, Santurro A, Tartaglia R, Frati P, Fineschi V.
Int J Qual Health Care 2021 Mar 5;33(1):mzaa085. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzaa085.
BACKGROUND: Nursing homes provide long-term care and have residential-oriented hospitalizations characterized by medical, nursing and social-care treatments for a typically geriatric population. In the current emergency phase, the problem of infections in residential structures for the elderly is taking on considerable importance in relation to the significant prevalence rates of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). SAFETY IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES: Prevention and control measures for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in nursing homes should be planned before a possible outbreak of COVID-19 occurs and should be intensified during any exacerbation of the same. Each facility should identify a properly trained contact person-also external-for the prevention and control of infections, who can refer to a multidisciplinary support committee and who is in close contact with the local health authorities. The contact person should collaborate with professionals in order to prepare a prevention and intervention plan that considers national provisions and scientific evidence, the requirements for reporting patients with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and the indications for the management of suspected, probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19. DISCUSSION: Adequate risk management in residential structures implies the establishment of a coordination committee with dedicated staff, the implementation of a surveillance program for the rapid recognition of the outbreaks, the identification of suitable premises and equipment, the application of universal precautions, the adaptation of care plans to reduce the possibility of contagion among residents and the protection of operators and staff training initiatives.

Impact on Health Care Workers

Depression among physicians and other medical employees involved in the COVID-19 outbreak: A cross-sectional study
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ALGhasab NS, ALJadani AH, ALMesned SS, Hersi AS.
Medicine (Baltimore) 2021 Apr 16;100(15):e25290.
Health care employees are the front liners whom are directly involved in the management of COVID-19 at high risk of developing psychological distress and other mental health illness. We aim to assess the burden of depression during this pandemic on health care employees treating COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia. We also will shed the light on the best solutions of how to encounter depression.A cross-sectional, hospital-based survey conducted via a region-stratified, 2-stage cluster sample was conducted for 554 participants in >15 hospitals from April 29, 2020, to June 30, 2020. Depression is measured using the established PHQ9 score system. We grade PHQ9 depression scores as: normal, 0 to 4, mild, 5 to 9, significant (moderate or severe), 10 to 27. χ2/Fisher exact test was used; significant association between level of depression and survey characteristics were made. P value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.A total of 554 participants completed the survey. A total of 18.9% (n = 105) were aged <29 years, 51.2% (n = 284) were between 30 to 39 years and female represent 70% of all participants. Of all participants, 53.7% (n = 298) were nurses, and 38.6% (n = 214) were physicians; 68.5% (n = 380) worked in central area hospitals in Saudi Arabia. No significant (P = .432, 95% confidence interval [CI]) association was observed between sex and depression classifications. However, female had high proportion of significant depression 75.0% (n = 76) was observed as compared to male 24.8% (n = 25). Depression was significant in Saudis 61.4% (n = 62) (P < .001, 95% CI) and medical staff who encountered corona patients 51.5% (n = 52) (P < .002, 95% CI). Hospital preparedness associated with more freedom of depression symptoms 69.1% (n = 199/288) (P < .001, 95% CI).Frontline young health care workers especially physician in Saudi Arabia reported a high rate of depression symptoms. Countermeasures for health care workers represent a key component for the mental and physical well-being as part of public health measures during this pandemic. Attention to hospital preparedness and adequacy of personal protective equipment contributed to milder depression symptoms. Further studies need to be conducted on crisis management and depression.

Psychological and occupational impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UK surgeons: a qualitative investigation
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Al-Ghunaim TA, Johnson J, Biyani CS, O’Connor D.
BMJ Open 2021 Apr 1;11(4):e045699-2020-045699.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic represents the greatest biopsychosocial emergency the world has faced for a century. The pandemic has changed how individuals live and work, and in particular, frontline healthcare professionals have been exposed to alarming levels of stress. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to understand the professional and personal effects of COVID-19 pandemic on surgeons working in the UK National Health Service (NHS). SETTING: Surgical departments in the NHS. DESIGN: Between May and July 2020, as part of an ongoing study, we asked surgeons two open-ended questions: ‘What challenges are the COVID-19 crisis currently presenting to you in your work and home life?’ and ‘How is this stress affecting you personally?’ Thematic analysis was used for the qualitative data. Responses to the second question were also categorised into four groups reflecting valence: positive, neutral, mildly negative and strongly negative. RESULTS: A total of 141 surgeons responded to the survey and the results indicated that 85.8% reported that they were generally negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, of which 7.8% were strongly affected in a negative way. Qualitative thematic analysis identified four key themes from responses relating to the impact of the pandemic: (1) changing and challenging work environment as a result of COVID-19; (2) challenges to professional life and development; (3) management of change and loss in the respondents’ personal lives; (4) emotional and psychological impacts. CONCLUSION: The results highlighted the substantial emotional and psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on surgeons’ mental health, particularly in relation to fear and anxiety, loss of motivation, low mood, stress and burnout. There is an urgent need for workplace support and mental health interventions to help surgeons cope with the difficulties they face during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Stress, Resilience, and Coping of Healthcare Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Croghan IT, Chesak SS, Adusumalli J, Fischer KM, Beck EW, Patel SR, et al.
J Prim Care Community Health 2021 Jan-Dec;12:21501327211008448.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the health care workers (HCWs) self-reported stress, resilience, and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to determine inter-professional differences. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: An email survey was sent to 474 HCW at a Midwestern HealthCare facility between April 9, 2020 and April 30, 2020. A total of 311 (65.6%) responses were received by May 31, 2020. The survey utilized 3 validated instruments: Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Brief Resilience Scale (BRS), Brief Resilience Coping Scale (BRCS). RESULTS: Of the 311 responses, 302 were evaluated: 97 from nonmedical staff with patient contact (NMPC); 86 from nonmedical staff with no patient contact (NMNPC); 62 from medical doctors (MD), physician assistants (PA) and nurse practitioners (NP); and 57 from nurses. Significant differences were noted across job categories for stress and resilience, with nurses reporting highest PSS scores (effect estimates: -2.72, P = .009 for NMNPC; -2.50, P = .015 for NMPC; -3.21, P = .006 for MD/NP/PA respectively), and MD/NP/PA group with highest BRS scores: nurses (-0.31, P = .02); NMPC (-0.3333, P = .01); and NMNPC (-0.2828, P = .02). Younger personnel had higher stress (-1.59 per decade of age, P < .01) and more resilience (0.11 per decade of age, P = .002). CONCLUSION: These self-reported data indicate that MD/NP/PA had the highest resilience scores and the nurses had highest stress levels. Efforts are warranted to include all HCWs in systematic stress mitigating interventions with particular attention to understand specific factors contributing to stress for the nursing team.

Portuguese Nurses’ Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Reduction Strategies during the COVID-19 Outbreak
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de Pinho LG, Sampaio F, Sequeira C, Teixeira L, Fonseca C, Lopes MJ.
Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021 Mar 27;18(7):3490. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18073490.
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to mental health problems worldwide. Nurses are particularly prone to stress because they directly care for individuals with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. The aims of this study were (a) to explore the association between the mental health promotion strategies used by nurses during the COVID-19 outbreak and their symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress; (b) to compare the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress of mental health nurses to those of non-mental health nurses; and (c) to compare the frequency of use of mental health strategies of mental health nurses to those of non-mental health nurses. A cross-sectional study was conducted with a sample of 821 nurses. Univariate and multivariate regression models were developed to identify potential protective factors of depression, anxiety, and stress. The chi-square test was also used to compare the use of strategies among mental health and non-mental health nurses. Portuguese nurses demonstrated high symptoms of depressive symptoms, stress, and anxiety. Healthy eating, physical activity, rest between shifts, maintaining social contacts, verbalizing feelings/emotions, and spending less time searching for information about COVID-19 were associated with better mental health. Mental health nurses had less depression, anxiety, and stress, and used more strategies to promote mental health than other nurses. We consider it important to promote nurses’ mental health literacy by encouraging them to develop skills and strategies aimed at improving their resilience and ability to deal with difficult situations while caring for the population.

The Psychological Impact of COVID-19 on Hospital Staff
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Hassamal S, Dong F, Hassamal S, Lee C, Ogunyemi D, Neeki MM.
West J Emerg Med 2021 Feb 8;22(2):346-352.
INTRODUCTION: The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created a mental health crisis among hospital staff who have been mentally and physically exhausted by uncertainty and unexpected stressors. However, the mental health challenges and complexities faced by hospital staff in the United States has not been fully elucidated. To address this gap, we conducted this study to examine the prevalence and correlates of depression and anxiety among hospital staff in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: The design is a single-center, cross-sectional, online survey evaluating depression and anxiety among all hospital employees (n = 3,500) at a safety-net hospital with a moderate cumulative COVID-19 hospitalization rate between April 30-May 22, 2020. We assessed depression with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. Anxiety was measured with the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 scale. Logistic regression analyses were calculated to identify associations with depression and anxiety. RESULTS: Of 3,500 hospital employees, 1,246 (36%) responded to the survey. We included 1,232 individuals in the final analysis. Overall, psychological distress was common among the respondents: 21% and 33% of staff reported significant depression and anxiety, respectively, while 46% experienced overwhelming stress due to COVID-19. Notably, staff members overwhelmed by the stress of COVID-19 were seven and nine times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, respectively. In addition to stress, individuals with six to nine years of work experience were two times more likely to report moderate or severe depression compared to those with 10 or more years of work experience. Moreover, ancillary staff with direct patient contact (odds ratio [OR] 8.9, confidence interval (CI), 1.46, 173.03) as well as administrative and ancillary staff with indirect patient contact (OR 5.9, CI, 1.06, 111.01) were more likely to be depressed than physicians and advanced providers. CONCLUSION: We found that a considerable proportion of staff were suffering from psychological distress. COVID-19-associated depression and anxiety was widespread among hospital staff even in settings with comparatively lower COVID-19 hospitalization rates. Ancillary staff, administrative staff, staff with less job experience, and staff overwhelmed by the stress of COVID-19 are particularly susceptible to negative mental health outcomes. These findings will help inform hospital policymakers on best practices to develop interventions to reduce the mental health burden associated with COVID-19 in vulnerable hospital staff.

Evaluation of stress, burnout and hair cortisol levels in health workers at a University Hospital during COVID-19 pandemic
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Ibar C, Fortuna F, Gonzalez D, Jamardo J, Jacobsen D, Pugliese L, et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology 2021 Apr 1;128:105213.
In the critical context of COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers are on the front line, participating directly in the care, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with COVID-19. This exposes them to a higher risk of developing chronic stress, psychological distress, and any other mental health symptoms. OBJECTIVE: to evaluate stress and burnout in a health workers population and, in addition, to measure hair cortisol concentration as a current biomarker of stress. MATERIALS AND METHODS: 234 health workers from Hospital de Clínicas “José de San Martín”, Buenos Aires University, were included in this study. In this population hair samples were obtained from the posterior vertex as close to the scalp as possible and the individuals completed the following surveys: perceived stress, social support, burnout scale, life event scale, and sociodemographic data. Hair cortisol was measured by an automated chemiluminescent method. The studied population was divided into three groups considering those individuals below the healthy reference sample range ( 128 pg/mg hair). This study used a transversal and observational design. RESULTS: Our results show that 40% of the studied population presented hair cortisol values outside of the healthy reference range. In the whole studied population, a direct correlation was found between hair cortisol concentration and perceived stress as well as between hair cortisol concentration and the emotional exhaustion component of burnout (r = 0.142, p = 0.030; r = 0.143, p = 0.029, respectively). 12% of the studied population showed Burnout (52% doctors and residents, 19% nurses, 19% administrative personnel). Higher values in hair cortisol levels were found in the group with burnout versus individuals without burnout (p = 0.034). Finally, a mediation analysis was performed, finding that depersonalization is a mediating variable in the relationship between self-perceived stress and hair cortisol level (F = 4.86, p = 0.0086; indirect effect IC: 0.0987-1.8840). CONCLUSION: This is the first study in which a stress biomarker such as hair cortisol is evaluated in this population and in this context. Healthcare workers are subjected to increased levels of stress and burnout. High depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and decreased personal sense of accomplishment characterize this population. It is the responsibility of the health authorities to implement strategies to manage this psychological emergency.

Association between engagement in COVID-19-related work and depressive symptoms among hospital workers in a designated COVID-19 hospital in Japan: a cross-sectional study
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Inoue Y, Yamamoto S, Fukunaga A, Hoang DV, Miki T, Islam Z, et al.
BMJ Open 2021 Apr 1;11(4):e049996-2021-049996.
OBJECTIVES: To examine whether engagement in COVID-19-related work was associated with an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms among the staff members working in a designated medical institution for COVID-19 in Tokyo, Japan. DESIGN: A cross-sectional study. SETTING: Data were obtained from a health survey conducted in July 2020 among the staff members of a designated medical institution for COVID-19 in Tokyo, Japan. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1228 hospital workers. EXPOSURE OF INTEREST: Engagement in COVID-19-related work (qualitatively (ie, the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection at work or affiliation to related departments) as well as quantitatively (ie, working hours)) and job categories. OUTCOME MEASURES: Depressive symptoms. RESULTS: There was no significant association between depressive symptoms and engagement in work with potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or affiliation to COVID-19-related departments. However, working for longer hours in March/April, when Japan witnessed a large number of infected cases, was significantly associated with depressive symptoms (≥11 hours/day: prevalence ratio (PR)=1.45, 95% CI=1.06 to 1.99, compared with ≤8 hours/day). Nurses were more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than did doctors (PR=1.70, 95% CI=1.14 to 2.54). CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection at work or having an affiliation to related departments might not be linked with a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms among Japanese hospital workers; contrarily, long working hours appeared to increase the prevalence of depressive symptoms.

Psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on paediatric healthcare workers
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Kirk AHP, Chong SL, Kam KQ, Huang W, Ang LSL, Lee JH, et al.
Ann Acad Med Singap 2021 Mar;50(3):203-211.
INTRODUCTION: Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are at risk of psychological distress. This study evaluates the psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic on HCWs in a national paediatric referral centre. METHODS: This was a survey-based study that collected demographic, work environment and mental health data from paediatric HCWs in the emergency, intensive care and infectious disease units. Psychological impact was measured using the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to identify risk factors associated with psychological distress. RESULTS: The survey achieved a response rate of 93.9% (430 of 458). Of the 430 respondents, symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress were reported in 168 (39.1%), 205 (47.7%) and 106 (24.7%), respectively. Depression was reported in the mild (47, 10.9%), moderate (76, 17.7%), severe (23, 5.3%) and extremely severe (22, 5.1%) categories. Anxiety (205, 47.7%) and stress (106, 24.7%) were reported in the mild category only. Collectively, regression analysis identified female sex, a perceived lack of choice in work scope/environment, lack of protection from COVID-19, lack of access to physical activities and rest, the need to perform additional tasks, and the experience of stigma from the community as risk factors for poor psychological outcome. CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of depression, anxiety and stress was reported among frontline paediatric HCWs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal psychoneuroimmunity and organisational prevention measures can be implemented to lessen psychiatric symptoms. At the national level, involving mental health professionals to plan and coordinate psychological intervention for the country should be considered.

Ethical and psychosocial considerations for hospital personnel in the Covid-19 crisis: Moral injury and resilience
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Kreh A, Brancaleoni R, Magalini SC, Chieffo DPR, Flad B, Ellebrecht N, et al.
PLoS One 2021 Apr 2;16(4):e0249609.
This study aims at investigating the nature of resilience and stress experience of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirteen healthcare workers from Italian and Austrian hospitals specifically dealing with COVID-19 patients during the first phase of the pandemic were interviewed. Data was analysed using grounded theory methodology. Psychosocial effects on stress experience, stressors and resilience factors were identified. We generated three hypotheses. Hypothesis one is that moral distress and moral injury are main stressors experienced by healthcare workers. Hypothesis two states that organisational resilience plays an important part in how healthcare workers experience the crisis. Organisational justice and decentralized decision making are essential elements of staff wellbeing. Hypothesis three refers to effective psychosocial support: Basic on scene psychosocial support based on the Hobfoll principles given by trusted and well-known mental health professionals and peers in an integrated approach works best during the pandemic.

The Characterization of the Toll of Caring for Coronavirus Disease 2019 on ICU Nursing Staff
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Laudanski K, Moon K, Singh A, Chen Y, Restrepo M.
Crit Care Explor 2021 Apr 2;3(4):e0380.

OBJECTIVES: Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic exercised a significant demand on healthcare workers. We aimed to characterize the toll of caring for coronavirus disease 2019 patients by registered nurses. DESIGN: An observational study of two registered nurses cohorts. SETTING: ICUs in a large academic center. SUBJECTS: Thirty-nine ICU registered nurses assigned to coronavirus disease 2019 versus noncoronavirus disease 2019 patients. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Skin temperature (t [°C]), galvanic skin stress response (GalvStress), blood pulse wave, energy expenditure (Energy [cal]), number of steps (hr(-1)), heart rate (min(-1)), and respiratory rate (min(-1)) were collected using biosensors during the shift. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Loading Index measured the subjective perception of an assignment load. Elevated skin temperatures during coronavirus disease 2019 shifts were recorded (Δt(COVID) vs t(non-COVID) = +1.3 [°C]; 95% CI, 0.1-2.5). Registered nurses staffing coronavirus disease patients self-reported elevated effort (ΔEffort(COVID) vs Effort(non-COVID) = +28.6; 95% CI, 13.3-43.9) concomitant with higher energy expenditure (ΔEnergy(COVID) vs Energy(non-COVID) = +21.5 [cal/s]; 95% CI, 4.2-38.7). Galvanic skin stress responses were more frequent among coronavirus disease registered nurse (ΔGalStress(COVID) vs GalvStress(non-COVID) = +10.7 [burst/hr]; 95% CI, 2.6-18.7) and correlated with self-reported increased mental burden (ΔTLXMental(COVID) vs ΔTLXMental(non-COVID) = +15.3; 95% CI, 1.0-29.6). CONCLUSIONS: There are indications that registered nurses providing care for coronavirus disease 2019 in the ICU reported increased thermal discomfort coinciding with elevated energy expenditure and a more pronounced self-perception of effort, stress, and mental demand.

Experiences and emotional strain of NHS frontline workers during the peak of the COVID19 pandemic
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Newman KL, Jeve Y, Majumder P.
Int J Soc Psychiatry 2021 Apr 13:207640211006153.
BACKGROUND: The mental health of the population has been negatively affected due to the pandemic. Frontline healthcare workers with increased exposure to COVID diagnosis, treatment and care were especially likely to report psychological burden, fear, anxiety and depression. AIM: To elicit how working as a health professional during the pandemic is impacting on the psychological wellbeing of frontline staff. METHOD: United Kingdom population of healthcare workers were approached by advertising the survey via social media, NHS trusts and other organisations. Open-ended survey answers were qualitatively explored using content analysis. RESULTS: Survey collected data from 395 NHS staff was developed into three themes; (1) Despair and uncertainty: feeling overwhelmed trying to protect everyone, (2) Behavioural and psychological impact: affecting wellbeing and functioning and (3) Coping and employer support: getting the right help. CONCLUSION: NHS staff felt enormous burden to adequately complete their professional, personal and civil responsibility to keep everyone safe leading to negative psychological and behavioural consequences and desire for NHS employers to offer better support. As the pandemic progresses, the results of this study may inform NHS employers on how optimum support can be offered to help them cope with negative psychological consequences of the pandemic.

COVID-19-Related Occupational Burnout and Moral Distress among Nurses: A Rapid Scoping Review
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Sriharan A, West KJ, Almost J, Hamza A.
Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont) 2021 Mar;34(1):7-19.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic is placing unprecedented pressure on a nursing workforce that is already under considerable mental strain due to an overloaded system. Convergent evidence from the current and previous pandemics indicates that nurses experience the highest levels of psychological distress compared with other health professionals. Nurse leaders face particular challenges in mitigating risk and supporting nursing staff to negotiate moral distress and fatigue during large-scale, sustained crises. Synthesizing the burgeoning literature on COVID-19-related burnout and moral distress faced by nurses and identifying effective interventions to reduce poor mental health outcomes will enable nurse leaders to support the resilience of their teams. AIM: This paper aims to (1) synthesize existing literature on COVID-19-related burnout and moral distress among nurses and (2) identify recommendations for nurse leaders to support the psychological needs of nursing staff. METHODS: Comprehensive searches were conducted in Medline, Embase and PsycINFO (via Ovid); CINAHL (via EBSCOHost); and ERIC (via ProQUEST). The rapid review was completed in accordance with the World Health Organization Rapid Review Guide. KEY FINDINGS: Thematic analysis of selected studies suggests that nurses are at an increased risk for stress, burnout and depression during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Younger female nurses with less clinical experience are more vulnerable to adverse mental health outcomes.