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Psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers: a cross-sectional study in China
  1. Jianyu Que1,
  2. Le Shi1,
  3. Jiahui Deng1,
  4. Jiajia Liu1,2,
  5. Li Zhang1,3,
  6. Suying Wu4,
  7. Yimiao Gong1,5,
  8. Weizhen Huang1,
  9. Kai Yuan1,
  10. Wei Yan1,
  11. Yankun Sun1,
  12. Maosheng Ran6,
  13. Yanping Bao2 and
  14. Lin Lu1,2,5
  1. 1Peking University Sixth Hospital, Peking University Institute of Mental Health, NHC Key Laboratory of Mental Health (Peking University), National Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders (Peking University Sixth Hospital), Beijing, China
  2. 2National Institute on Drug Dependence and Beijing Key Laboratory on Drug Dependence Research, Peking University, Beijing, China
  3. 3Mental Health Institute of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China
  4. 4Xiamen City Xianyue Hospital, Xiamen, Fujian, China
  5. 5Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences and PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing, China
  6. 6Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Lin Lu; linlu{at}; Professor Yanping Bao; baoyp{at}


Background Healthcare workers fighting against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are under tremendous pressure, which puts them at an increased risk of developing psychological problems.

Aims This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of psychological problems in different healthcare workers (ie, physicians, medical residents, nurses, technicians and public health professionals) during the COVID-19 pandemic in China and explore factors that are associated with the onset of psychological problems in this population during this public health crisis.

Methods A cross-sectional, web-based survey was conducted in February 2020 among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological problems were assessed using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire and Insomnia Severity Index. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore the factors that were associated with psychological problems.

Results The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia and the overall psychological problems in healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in China was 46.04%, 44.37%, 28.75% and 56.59%, respectively. The prevalence of the overall psychological problems in physicians, medical residents, nurses, technicians and public health professionals was 60.35%, 50.82%, 62.02%, 57.54% and 62.40%, respectively. Compared with healthcare workers who did not participate in front-line work, front-line healthcare workers had a higher risk of anxiety, insomnia and overall psychological problems. In addition, attention to negative or neutral information about the pandemic, receiving negative feedback from families and friends who joined front-line work, and unwillingness to join front-line work if given a free choice were three major factors for these psychological problems.

Conclusions Psychological problems are pervasive among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Receiving negative information and participating in front-line work appear to be important risk factors for psychological problems. The psychological health of different healthcare workers should be protected during the COVID-19 pandemic with timely interventions and proper information feedback.

  • prevalence
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • psychological phenomena
  • risk factors

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  • JQ and LS contributed equally.

  • Contributors JQ and LL proposed the topic and the main idea. JQ analysed the data. JQ and SL wrote the initial draft. JD, JL, LZ, SW, YG, WH, KY, WY, YS, MR, YB and LL commented on and revised the manuscript. LL made the final revision. All authors contributed to the final draft of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was supported by grants from the Beijing Natural Science Foundation (NO. 7194336), Special Research Fund of PKUHSC for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 (NO. BMU2020HKYZX008) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NO. 81761128036, 81821092 and 31900805).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the ethical review committee of the Peking University Sixth Hospital.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request to the first author.