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Nearly half of UK’s critical care staff suffer from depression, anxiety due to Covid — study


A medical worker in PPE suit holds the door, to a Covid-19 positive area, in the ICU at a hospital in Cambridge
Representational image | A medical worker in PPE suit holds the door to a Covid-19 positive area, in the ICU at a hospital in Cambridge | Photo: Neil Hall | EPA via Bloomberg

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New Delhi: A new study has found that at least 45 per cent of healthcare workers working in critical care units during the pandemic in the UK suffer from either severe depression, anxiety, problem drinking or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Conducted by researchers from the King’s College in London, the study was published in the Occupational Medicine journal Wednesday. It aimed to identify probable mental health issues among staff working in ICUs at nine UK hospitals between June and July 2020.

For the study, respondents took an anonymised web-based survey that contained standardised questions to examine symptoms for depression, anxiety, PTSD, alcohol use etc.

Out of the 709 respondents who participated in the survey, 41 per cent were doctors, 49 per cent nurses while 10 per cent were other healthcare staff. The study found that 59 per cent of healthcare workers reported “good well-being”. But 45 per cent of critical care staff “met the threshold for probable clinical significance” on at least one of the following disorders — severe depression, PTSD, severe anxiety and problem drinking.

The study also found that six per cent healthcare workers showed clinical threshold for severe depression, 40 per cent for PTSD, 11 per cent for severe anxiety and seven per cent for problem drinking.

Also read: Holding your breath could increase risk of contracting Covid, IIT-Madras study finds

Thought of self-harm among ICU staff

The study revealed that 13 per cent respondents reported frequent thoughts of “being better off dead or hurting themselves”. Also, doctors reported better mental health than nurses, in across a range of parameters.

The study concluded “substantial rates” of probable mental health disorders and thoughts of self-harm among ICU staff.

“Whilst further work is needed to better understand the real level of clinical need among ICU staff, these results indicate the need for a national strategy to protect the mental health, and decrease the risk of functional impairment, of ICU staff whilst they carry out their essential working during Covid-19,” the study said.

Also read: Wuhan’s actual Covid tally in May could be 3 times more than the official figure, study says


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