Socio-Ecological Predictors of Mental Health Outcomes Among Healthcare Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States
Healthcare workers are at increased risk of adverse mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies are warranted that examine socio-ecological factors associated with these outcomes to inform interventions that support healthcare workers during future disease outbreaks.
The researchers conducted an online cross-sectional study of healthcare workers during May 2020 to assess the socio-ecological predictors of mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study assessed factors at four socio-ecological levels: individual (e.g., gender), interpersonal (e.g., social support), institutional (e.g., personal protective equipment availability), and community (e.g., healthcare worker stigma). The Personal Health Questionnaire-9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, Primary Care Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Concise scales assessed probable major depression (MD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol use disorder (AUD), respectively. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess unadjusted and adjusted associations between socio-ecological factors and mental health outcomes.
Of the 1,092 participants, 72.0% were female, 51.9% were frontline workers, and the mean age was 40.4 years (standard deviation = 11.5). Based on cut-off scores, 13.9%, 15.6%, 22.8%, and 42.8% had probable MD, GAD, PTSD, and AUD, respectively. In the multivariable adjusted models, needing more social support was associated with significantly higher odds of probable MD, GAD, PTSD, and AUD. The significance of other factors varied across the outcomes. For example, at the individual level, female gender was associated with probable PTSD. At the institutional level, lower team cohesion was associated with probable PTSD, and difficulty following hospital policies with probable MD. At the community level, higher healthcare worker stigma was associated with probable PTSD and AUD, decreased satisfaction with the national government response with probable GAD, and higher media exposure with probable GAD and PTSD.
These findings can inform targeted interventions that promote healthcare workers’ psychological resilience during disease outbreaks.