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HELSEVEL-H-Gode og effektive helse-, omsorgs- og velferdstjenester

Stress responses and health complaints in hospital personnel during the Covid-19 pandemic

Alternative title: Stress og helseplager hos sykehuspersonell under Covid-19 pandemien

Awarded: NOK 5.0 mill.

PROJECT AIMS The purpose of the study is to gain new knowledge about the stress that health care personnel in hospitals experience during a pandemic, the consequences the experiences have for the individual and point to important measures to reduce stress and health problems. During a pandemic, the efforts of health care personnel are invaluable to maintain adequate care and save lives of critical ill patients in hospitals. These efforts can be very demanding. This study will provide new knowledge on health professionals` experiences during the pandemic and the consequences of their work load, measures needed to improve working conditions and access to adequate support and how to increase preparedness in health services for future crises. PROJECT METHODS The study identifies the extra stresses and workload during the pandemic crises, as well as possible stress reactions, physical and mental health symptoms. The project also aims to register positive experiences in treating ill patients and what works well in the work place. In stressful work situations, sleep and rest can be greatly affected, and in this study we invite some participants to wear an activity sensor (glued to the body) for a week. This data provides additional information on opportunities for rest and stressful work situations. NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Covid-19 is a national and global challenge. Four of the largest hospitals in Norway collaborate in this project. Several EU countries are conducting similar surveys at their hospitals and the study will seek to collaborate with projects abroad through our International Advisory Board (Europe, USA and Australia). STATUS FALL 2020 The study recruited employees at OUS, Ahus and UNN to participate in the first data collection of the health personnel study Covid-19 through the first wave of infections in April-June 2020. In total, N = 708 answered questionnaires via the web portal. The majority were employees at OUS (N = 509, 72%). Among the participants were 21% doctors and 60% nurses, the rest were other clinical and non-clinical personnel. On average, participants had 17 years of clinical work experience after graduation. The average age was 43 years and 79% were women. During the data collection over 20% of employees had children in home school. Data from the first data collection are now being analysed and preliminary analyses show that most participants in the study (70%) had during the pandemic been in contact with patients with suspected or proven Covid-19 infection and over half of the participants in the study had treatment responsibilities for one or more seriously ill Covid-19 patients. One third of the participants had been in quarantine. The study now maps workloads through the first wave of infection and possible stress reactions and health problems associated with extra workloads. During the summer of 2020, the infection rate declined and the hospitals eventually discharged all Covid-19 patients who survived the pandemic. The study is designed to map the situation in hospitals through infection peaks, and we planned for the second data collection when the infection pressure again rose dramatically in October 2020. On December 1st 2020, the second data collection starts at all four hospitals and will be finalized before Christmas. After stressful work periods, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, some people may experience difficulty sleeping, mental and / or bodily reactions. The study specifically maps sleep disorders, pain, depressive disorders and increased restlessness / anxiety. Analyzers from the two data collections will provide answers to the extent to which health personnel in hospitals are affected by increased health problems in the acute phase (first wave of infection) and in the announced second wave of infection.

Background The COVID-19 pandemic is currently spreading rapidly, and critically ill patients are increasingly admitted to hospitals, putting a heavy toll on already highly pressured healthcare systems worldwide. In response to the crisis, there is an urgent need to identify measures to adequately support critical personnel`s efforts and safeguard their physical and psychological health and well-being. Objective This study aims to map Covid-19 related work strain factors and critical incidents and investigate the potential impact on levels of distress and health condition during the outbreak. During the critical phases of the outbreak the study will identify risk factors for distress and health complaints and suggest measures needed to be implemented to reduce their impact. Methods The study recruits health care personnel involved in treatment of hospitalized patients infected of Covid-19 in different hospital units in four regional university hospital in Norway. Participants report on Covid-19 work strain and critical incidents at work, individual and work place related factors, work schedules, levels of psychological distress and health complaints including headache, musculoskeletal pain, sleep problems and burn-out. Sensors measuring activity and rest compliment self-reported data of sleep and rest. In analyses of the data we will apply a mixed methods approach, using qualitative and quantitative data. Participation in the study is based on informed written consent and measures will be taken to protect privacy and ensure voluntary participation. Results This study will provide urgently needed knowledge on how the Covid-19 outbreak impact health care personnel`s work load during the phases of the pandemic and provide critical information to stake holders on risk factors needed to be addressed to reduce work-related stress.


HELSEVEL-H-Gode og effektive helse-, omsorgs- og velferdstjenester