Year: 2023 Source: PLoS ONE. (2022). 17(11), e0277174. 10.1371/journal.pone.0277174 SIEC No: 20230624
The COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the mental health of hospital workers. During the prolonged pandemic, hospital workers may experience much more severe psychological distress, leading to an increased risk of suicide. This study aimed to investigate changes in psychological effects on hospital workers over 12 months from the beginning of the pandemic and clarify factors associated with psychological distress and suicide-related ideation 1-year after the pandemic’s beginning. These repeated, cross-sectional surveys collected demographic, mental health, and stress-related data from workers in 2 hospitals in Yokohama, Japan. The first survey, conducted in March-April 2020, contained the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) assessing general distress and the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) assessing event-related distress. In the second survey in March 2021, hospital workers at the same two hospitals were reassessed using the same questionnaire, and Item 9 of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was added to assess their suicide-related ideation. The findings of the first and second surveys revealed that the average score of GHQ-12 (3.08 and 3.73, respectively), the IES-R total score (6.8 and 12.12, respectively), and the prevalence rates of severe general distress (35.0% and 44.0%, respectively) and severe event-related distress (7.0% and 17.1%, respectively) deteriorated. The second survey showed that 8.6% of the hospital workers were experiencing suicide-related ideation. Both the general and event-related distress were associated with suicide-related ideation. In these surveys, mental health outcomes among the hospital workers deteriorated over one year from the pandemic’s beginning, and their severe psychological distress was the risk factor for the suicide-related ideation. Further studies are needed to compare the psychological effects on hospital workers during and after the prolonged pandemic and to explore appropriate measures to support hospital workers’ mental health.