Research to improve people's health


Almost half of the health professionals in the State have presented a high risk of mental disorder during the first wave of COVID-19

Almost half of those surveyed in the study present a positive screening for a mental disorder and 14.5% suffer from a disabling mental disorder, that is, with clear negative repercussions on their professional and social life

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Almost half of the health professionals in the State are at high risk of suffering a mental disorder after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, 3.5% present active suicidal ideation (presence of death wishes and persistent thoughts of wanting to kill themselves). This is concluded by two studies carried out through professional surveys (MINDCOVID study) of 18 hospital centers in six autonomous communities of the State (Andalusia, the Basque Country, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Madrid and the Valencian Community), led by researchers Hospital del Mar Institute for Medical Research (IMIM) and CIBER in Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP) and CIBER Mental Health (CIBERSAM), as well as doctors from Hospital del Mar. The data are published by the Journal of Psychiatry and Health Mental and Depression & Anxiety magazine.

The two studies have been based on a series of anonymous online surveys conducted with health professionals from the 18 participating centers. 9,138 of them participated in the study, answering questions about their work during the first wave of the pandemic, family relationships, personal impact of COVID-19 or the family, social and work environment and a series of careful measures to detect possible mental disorders . "Data from the first wave of the pandemic indicate a prevalence of mental health problems
disability in Spanish toilets much higher than expected. We will have to monitor the risk that these problems persist and, at the same time, take into account the factors identified in our study to try to minimize it ”, according to Dr. Jordi Alonso, lead author of the study, director of the Epidemiology Program of the IMIM-Hospital del Mar and scientific co-director of the CIBER in Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP).

80% of those surveyed, according to work published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Mental Health, were directly involved in the care of COVID-19 patients, despite the fact that only 43% were in contact for almost the entire time. 17.4% contracted the disease and 112 required hospital admission. In 13.4% of the cases, a member of the immediate family was infected and in 1 in 4, the professional had to be confined or quarantined. 4 out of 10 reported having suffered some type of mental disorder before the pandemic.

Impact of the pandemic on the mental health of health professionals

Of the total participants, 45.7% are at high risk for some type of mental disorder, that is, they need a professional evaluation to confirm the presence of a mental disorder. At the same time, 1 in 7, 14.5%, have a disabling mental disorder, with clear negative repercussions on their professional and social life. By pathologies, 28.1% present depression, 22.5% anxiety disorder, almost 1 in 4, panic, 22.2% post-traumatic stress and a little more than 6%, substance abuse. In addition, having had a mental disorder before the pandemic doubles the risk of suffering it again as a result of COVID-19. “The results of the study do not surprise us, but they do concern us. They are very consistent with our clinical experience. We cared for many health workers with acute stress, exhaustion and anxiety. Especially those who have previously experienced mental health problems. As in other institutions, in our center we launched an emotional support program, the One2One program, which facilitated a multi-channel approach to professionals ”, explains Dr. Víctor Pérez, last signatory of the work, director of the Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Addictions of the Hospital del Mar (INAD), coordinator of the Mental Health Research Group of the IMIM-Hospital del Mar and researcher of the CIBER of Mental Health (CIBERSAM).

The prevalence of mental disorders is higher in the case of young women, not born in the State and not married. The group of nursing assistants is the one that shows the greatest impact. 2 out of 3 aides are at high risk for mental disorders and half of nurses. At the same time, there is a higher prevalence in those professionals exposed to COVID-19 patients, and among those who have suffered the disease or who have had infected relatives.

Given these results, the authors recommend monitoring health professionals with previous mental disorders, as well as those with high exposure to patients with COVID-19, who have suffered the infection or have been in confinement, with special attention to the assistants of Nursing.