What were the mental health outcomes of health care workers who provided care during the days immediately preceding the COVID-19 peak in Italy?

Disposal, Road, Irresponsible, Prohibited

Bottom Line:

Health care workers in Italy experienced post traumatic stress syndrome, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and stress while providing care during the peak of COVID-19. Women and younger workers were more likely to report mental health symptoms.


Rossi, R. et al. Mental Health Outcomes Among Frontline and Second-Line Health Care Workers During The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic In Italy. JAMA Network Open (2020). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.10185

Date Published:

28 May 2020


This study aims to address the risk factors linked to mental health outcomes among health care workers who provided care around the peak of COVID-19 in Italy. Italy was severely affected by COVID-19, with an overwhelmed health system and health care workers trying to cope. As a result, the impact of the pandemic on health care workers may have been uniquely intense. In all, 1,379 health care workers completed the survey, of which 77% were women and an average age of 39 years. The most frequently reported mental health outcome was post traumatic stress symptoms, with very nearly 50% of the sample reporting. Other most frequently reported mental health symptoms included depression (25%), stress (22%), and anxiety (20%). Certain factors impacted the likelihood of experiencing mental health symptoms, including gender, where women experienced greater depression; primary care physicians were more likely to experience post traumatic stress symptoms; while nurses and healthcare assistants reported severe insomnia. Having a colleague deceased, hospitalized, or in quarantine was also associated with increased negative mental health symptoms. This study has limitations, including the fact that participants self-opted into the study and therefore there may be a response bias in those who volunteered to complete the survey. Nevertheless, these findings point to a clear negative mental health response in those providing care for COVID-19 patients in this context.

Summary by: Jennifer Gutberg