The research seems to be on the concern of HCW throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

A team of scientists from Saudi Arabia recently interviewed health care workers to assess their knowledge, attitudes, practices and stress levels during the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The study shows that health care workers from Saudi Arabia suffer from high levels of anxiety due to the higher risk of severe coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection with acute respiratory syndrome. The study is currently available on the medRxiv * preprint server.

background

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has put severe pressure on the professional and personal lives of frontline workers, particularly healthcare workers. Due to the rapid pace of research, new information related to the pandemic is popping up almost daily, making it difficult for healthcare workers to keep up to date. This can significantly affect their attitudes and practices about patient care.

In Saudi Arabia, high levels of compliance and adaptability to infection prevention and control were observed among healthcare workers during the Middle East Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak.

In the current study, the scientists assessed the level of anxiety and preparedness of health care workers related to COVID-19 management at a government tertiary hospital in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic.

Study design

During the survey, online questionnaires were sent to 1,500 healthcare workers, which provided 957 responses. Most of the respondents were women and nurses. In particular, information was collected on COVID-19-related knowledge, attitudes towards control measures, different hygiene practices and stress levels.

Important observations

The scientists compared the self-reported anxiety levels of health care workers during COVID-19, MERS-CoV, and seasonal influenza. The highest levels of anxiety were observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 88% of healthcare workers reporting high levels of anxiety. However, respondents indicated that COVID-19 is more prepared than other virus outbreaks. About 97% of respondents said they took N95 mask fitting tests, while only 58% took part in simulation sessions organized by the hospitals for COVID-19 management. Notably, around 25% of respondents indicated that their hospitals do not have psychological support systems.

Regarding knowledge, attitudes and practices related to COVID-19, most of the respondents indicated that they understand the importance of the control measures recommended by hospitals and are firmly convinced to implement them during COVID-19 patient care. An improvement in hygiene practices was observed among respondents. However, it was found that their attitude in hygiene practice was significantly related to a higher level of anxiety.

About 95% of respondents said they were concerned about acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection regarding the source of fear. More than 50% said they were concerned about the lack of personal protective equipment in the hospital, especially in high-risk wards. Respondents who use social media to gather COVID-19-related information were found to have higher levels of anxiety.

Importantly, a positive correlation was observed between the anxiety level of health care workers and their clinical roles and work locations. Doctors and nurses in private practice were found to have a low level of anxiety compared to counselors. Similarly, higher levels of anxiety have been noted among health care workers serving general health wards, including COVID-19 wards and pediatric emergency rooms. In general, health workers working in a hospital with an appropriate psychological support system were found to have lower levels of anxiety.

The level of anxiety among healthcare workers was found to gradually increase over the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, knowledge of COVID-19 management and attitudes towards hygiene practices increased significantly during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, there was also an increase in the frequency of the annual influenza vaccine among healthcare workers. In addition, there is a tendency for them to reschedule annual leave.

Study significance

The study shows that healthcare workers in Saudi Arabia suffer from increased levels of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily due to acquiring a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Having an adequate emotional and psychological support system in the workplace can help reduce anxiety levels and improve mental wellbeing.

* Important NOTE

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice / health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

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