Interventions to address mental health issues in healthcare workers during infectious disease outbreaks (search up to 2 October 2020)

Added November 18, 2021

Citation: Zaçe D, Hoxhaj I, Orfino A, et al. Interventions to address mental health issues in healthcare workers during infectious disease outbreaks: a systematic review. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2021;136:319-33

Language: Abstract and full text only available in EN.

Free to view: Yes.

Funding sources: The authors report that this review did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

What is this? Some healthcare workers are affected by mental health issues during pandemics and epidemics.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for qualitative and quantitative research into interventions intended to address mental health issues of healthcare workers during infectious disease outbreaks. They restricted their searches to articles published in English and conducted the search up to 2 October 2020. They included 24 studies, which had used a variety of study designs.

What was found: Organizational-level interventions (e.g., promoting leadership and teamwork, manpower allocation and adjusting work hours) helped promote mental health wellbeing among healthcare workers.

Providing healthcare workers with sufficient personal protective equipment reduced anxiety and depression levels, improved sleep quality and decreased worries about their own and their families’ health.

Clear communication of directives and precautionary measures reduced mental health issues among healthcare workers.

During pandemics and epidemics, psycho-emotional interventions (e.g., psychological education/training, therapy, counselling and cognitive behaviour training) helped build resilience among healthcare workers and reduced stress.

Implications: The authors of the review concluded that the mental health impact on healthcare workers, during epidemics/pandemics and after, is complex and should be addressed in a sustained way by governments and healthcare systems, which should design and implement multi-factorial intervention strategies to mitigate its impact in a collaborative and interdisciplinary manner. They stated that there is a need for further research on the effectiveness of these interventions.

Other considerations: The authors of the review discussed their findings in the context of culture and socioeconomic status.


This summary was prepared by Sumra Ali and edited and finalized by Mike Clarke.

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