Prevalence estimates of suicidal thoughts and behaviours (STB) among clinically active healthcare professionals during the first wave of COVID19 pandemic are non-existing. The main aim of this study was to investigate the 30-day prevalence of STB and associated risk factors.
As part of the Recovering Emotionally from COVID study (RECOVID), 30-day STB among healthcare professionals (N = 6,409) was assessed in an e-survey in healthcare settings in Belgium. The prevalence of STB and associated risk factors were estimated in multivariable models with individual-level and society-level measures of association. We used post-stratification weights to make the data representative for the entire clinical workforce in Belgium.
Prevalence was 3.6% death wish, 1.5% suicide ideation, 1.0% suicide plan, and 0.0% suicide attempt. Thirty-day STB was (a) increased among respondents with lifetime and current mental disorders (mostly depression) and those hospitalized for COVID19 infection, (b) decreased among respondents with social support, and (c) unrelated to work environment.
This is an explorative cross-sectional study using multivariate models that generates specific hypotheses on the prevalence of and risk factors for STB during the COVID19 pandemic rather than testing specific pathways that lead to STB onset.
Across age, gender, professional discipline, and exposure to COVID, lifetime and current mental disorders were highly associated with STB. These factors could guide governments and healthcare organizations in taking up responsibilities in preventing emotional problems and developing resilience among healthcare professionals during, but probably beyond, the current COVID19 pandemic.