Originally published by 2 Minute Medicine® (view original article). Reused on AccessMedicine with permission.

1. In this systematic review, several factors, including female sex, younger age, frontline work, longer working hours, and fears of contracting COVID-19, were associated with adverse mental health changes in healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. However, factors such as a supportive environment, access to psychological resources, and availability of personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests were associated with positive mental health changes.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a deterioration in healthcare workers’ mental health, especially those at the frontline. There remains a lack of understanding concerning the long-term effects of the pandemic on healthcare workers’ mental health and the factors which influence their mental well-being. As a result, the objective of the present study was to review and synthesize existing knowledge regarding the long-term mental health effects of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of 3,228 identified records, 18 studies were included from various databases from January 2020-November 2021. Studies were included if they were longitudinal observational studies that assessed any mental health-related outcome in healthcare professionals providing care to patients with COVID-19 infections. Studies were excluded if they only shared preliminary results. The review was performed using PRISMA guidelines. The study quality was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) tool. The primary outcome was changes in mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results demonstrated that factors associated with a positive mental health change included having a supportive environment and access to resources, such as mental health supports, personal protective equipment, and COVID-19 testing kits. Factors associated with an adverse change in mental health included female sex, younger age, being a frontline worker, working longer hours, and having a fear of contracting COVID-19. Despite these results, the study was limited by the inclusion of studies from only two databases which may have affected the comprehensiveness of the study. Nonetheless, the present study identified some modifiable factors which may influence the mental health of healthcare workers.

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