HealthDay News — Many New York City health care workers are experiencing COVID-19-related psychological distress, especially nurses and advanced practice providers, according to a study published in the upcoming September-October issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.

Ari Shechter, PhD, from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional web survey of 657 New York City health care workers, including physicians, advanced practice providers, residents/fellows, and nurses. The survey was conducted during April 9 to 24, 2020, during a peak of inpatient admission for COVID-19 in New York City.

The researchers found that positive screens were common for psychological symptoms: 57%, 48%, and 33% for acute stress, depressive, and anxiety symptoms, respectively. A higher percentage of nurses/advanced practice providers screened positive compared with attending physicians for each of the symptoms; house staff rates for acute stress and depression did not differ from either attending physicians or nurses/advanced practice providers. Increased sense of meaning/purpose was reported by 61 percent of participants since the COVID-19 outbreak. The most common coping behavior was physical activity/exercise (59%), and the most interest was garnered for access to an individual therapist with online self-guided counseling (33%).

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“The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic should help decision-makers at all levels of government, hospital management, and the community to promote readiness to protect health care workers as we navigate this and future public health crises,” the authors write. “We hope that these findings will influence policies at other institutions that face a rapid rise in patients with COVID-19 in the future.”

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