Impact of viral epidemic outbreaks on mental health of healthcare workers: a rapid systematic review
Objectives: To examine the impact of providing healthcare during or after health emergencies caused by viral epidemic outbreaks on healthcare workers (HCWs) mental health, and to assess the available evidence base regarding interventions to reduce such impact. Design: Systematic rapid review and meta-analysis. Data sources: MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycINFO, searched up to 23 March 2020. Method: We selected observational and experimental studies examining the impact on mental health of epidemic
... lth of epidemic outbreaks on HCWs. Titles and abstracts were screened by one reviewer, and full texts were evaluated by two reviewers independently. We extracted study characteristics, symptoms, prevalence of mental health problems, risk factors, mental health interventions, and its impact. We assessed risk of bias for each individual study. We conducted a narrative and tabulated synthesis of the results. We pooled data using random-effects meta-analyses to estimate the prevalence of specific mental health problems. We followed the GRADE approach to assess the certainty in the evidence. Results: We included 61 studies (56 examining impact on mental health and five about interventions to reduce such impact). Most were conducted in Asia (59%), examined the impact of the SARS epidemic (69%), and took place in the hospital setting (79%). The pooled prevalence was higher for anxiety (45%, 95% CI 21 to 69%; 6 studies, 3,373 participants), followed by depression (38%, 95% CI 15 to 60%; 7 studies, 3,636 participants), acute stress disorder (31%, 95% CI 0 to 82%, 3 studies , 2,587 participants), burnout (29%, 95% CI 25 to 32%; 3 studies; 1,168 participants) and post-traumatic stress disorder (19%, 95% CI 11 to 26%, 10 studies, 3,121 participants). Based on 37 studies, we identified a broad number of risk factors for these conditions, including sociodemographic: younger age and female gender; social factors: lack of social support, social rejection or isolation, stigmatization; and occupational: working in a high risk environment (frontline staff), specific occupational roles (e.g., nurse), and lower levels of specialized training, preparedness and job experience. Two out of five interventions identified were educational aimed to prevent mental health problems by increasing HCWs resilience. These interventions showed positive effects in confidence in support and training, pandemic self-efficacy and interpersonal problems solving (very low certainty). One multifaceted intervention (based on training and organisational changes) targeted at hospital nurses during the SARS epidemic produced statistically significant improvements in anxiety, depression, and sleep quality (very low certainty). The impact of the two remaining interventions (multifaceted and based on psychotherapy provision) was unreported. Conclusion: The prevalence of anxiety, depression, acute and post-traumatic stress disorder, and burnout, was high both during and after the outbreaks. These problems not only have a long-lasting effect on the mental health of HCWs, but also hinder the urgent response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, by jeopardising attention and decision-making. Governments and healthcare authorities should take urgent actions to protect the mental health of HCWs. In light of the limited evidence regarding the impact of interventions to tackle mental health problems in HCWs, the risk factors identified in this study represent important targets for future interventions.