The prevalence of mental health conditions in healthcare workers during and after a pandemic: systematic review and meta-analysis

Hill, James Edward orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1430-6927, Harris, Catherine, Christian, Danielle orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1117-6127, Boland, Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2267-4295, Doherty, Alison orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3593-8069, Benedetto, Valerio orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4683-0777, Bhutani, G and Clegg, Andrew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8938-7819 (2022) The prevalence of mental health conditions in healthcare workers during and after a pandemic: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal Of Advanced Nursing . ISSN 0309-2402

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Aims: This review aims to explore the prevalence and incidence rates of mental health conditions in healthcare workers during and after a pandemic outbreak and which factors influence rates.
Background: Pandemics place considerable burdens on care services, impacting on workers’ health and their ability to deliver services. We systematically reviewed the prevalence and incidence of mental health conditions in care workers during pandemics.
Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: Searches of MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library and PsychINFO for cohort, cross-sectional and case-control studies were undertaken on the 31st March 2020 (from inception to 31st March 2020).

Review Methods: Only prevalence or incidence rates for mental health conditions from validated tools were included. Study selection, data extraction and quality assessment were carried out by two reviewers. Meta-analyses and subgroup analyses were produced for pandemic period (pre-and post), age, country income, country, clinical setting for major depression disorder (MDD), anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Results: No studies of incidence were found. Prevalence estimates showed that the most common mental health condition was PTSD (21.7%) followed by anxiety disorder (16.1%), MDD (13.4%) and acute stress disorder (7.4%) (low risk of bias). For symptoms of these conditions there was substantial variation in the prevalence estimates for depression (95% confidence interval (CI):31.8%; 60.5%), anxiety (95% CI:34.2%; 57.7%) and PTSD symptoms (95% CI:21.4%; 65.4%) (moderate risk of bias). Age, level of exposure and type of care professional were identified as important moderating factors.
Conclusion: Mental disorders affect healthcare workers during and after infectious disease pandemics, with higher proportions experiencing symptoms.
Impact: This review provides prevalence estimates of mental health conditions during and after a pandemic which could be used to inform service staffing impact and formulation of preventative strategies, by identifying clinical populations who may be at high risk of developing mental health symptoms and conditions.

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