More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, a majority of healthcare workers say the crisis is affecting their mental health, including around 3 in 10 people who have either received or believe they have received mental health benefits directly in need of the pandemic, a KFF / Washington Post National Poll finds.

Most (62%) frontline health workers say that pandemic-related worries and stress had a negative impact on their mental health, as the survey of all frontline health workers shows. At least 4 in 10 frontline health workers say the pandemic has negatively impacted their physical health (49%) and their relationships with family members (42%) and employees (41%).

Considerable proportions report sleep-related problems (47%), frequent headaches or stomach aches (31%) and increased alcohol or drug consumption (16%), which they attribute to pandemic-related worries and stress. More than half (56%) say they have at least one of these three problems.

About 8 in 10 frontline health workers said that concerns about exposure to COVID-19 at work and the exposure of others in their household caused stress in the past year, including at least 4 in 10 who said they did Concerns are “the main causes of stress.” A smaller majority (63%) say that worrying about adequate personal protective equipment has caused stress.

About 3 in 10 frontline health workers felt that their mental health problems led them to receive psychiatric care or medication (13%) or believed that they needed and did not receive such services (18%). Among those who felt needed but did not receive psychiatric care, the most common reasons cited are because they were too busy (27%), afraid or ashamed to seek care (17%) they could not (16%) or they could not get any free time (14%).

Survey results show that younger frontline health workers (under 30) appear to be the most affected. Three quarters (75%) said the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health, and almost as many (69%) said they felt “burned out”.

About 1 in 6 frontline healthcare workers (16%) said they tested positive for COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic. The proportion of COVID-19 contract partners was slightly higher in nursing homes or assisted care facilities (24%) than in hospitals (18%), medical practices or clinics (14%) or in home health care (8%).

About a quarter of those who tested positive (4% of all healthcare workers) reported having “severe symptoms” while the rest reported minor or no symptoms.

The results come from the latest KFF / Post partnership survey, which looked at the experiences of frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontline health workers include those who come into contact with patients or body fluids in many different aspects of patient care, including diagnosis and treatment, administrative tasks, and assistance with bathing, eating, cleaning, exercising, and cleaning. Results appear in The Washington Post and in a KFF report.

More than half (56%) of those who have worked in hospitals said their intensive care units were congested at some point during the pandemic, and a third (34%) of those who have worked in hospitals or nursing homes admit indicates they did so at some point Personal protective equipment was running low.

Further results are:

  • A slim majority (56%) of non-self-employed frontline health workers say their employer “falls short” in providing hazard pay to those working in the most risky situations. Fewer say that their employer “falls short” in providing adequate paid sick leave (33%) or ensuring workers can be vaccinated (12%).
  • Most frontline health workers (58%) don’t expect Americans to be able to safely return to normal life by 2022. Smaller stocks expect a return to normal by mid-summer (24%) or between mid-summer and mid-autumn (24%). 18%).
  • When asked what the hardest part of working was during the pandemic, similar stocks said they were worried about exposure to COVID-19 and getting sick, or exposing family members (21%) and wearing masks and others personal protective equipment (16%). Fewer mentioned concerns such as safety protocols and precautionary measures (8%) and the overload caused by long working hours and lack of free time (7%).

The project, the 35th KFF / The Washington Post Partnership Survey, includes interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,327 frontline healthcare workers (direct contact with patients and their body fluids) representing hospitals, doctor’s offices, outpatient departments, nursing homes and hospitals assisted care facilities and those who work in home health care. The sample includes workers involved in many and several different aspects of patient care, including patient diagnosis and treatment, administrative tasks and / or patient care assistance such as bathing, eating, cleaning, exercising, and household chores. The survey also included a comparative survey that allowed researchers to compare the group of frontline health workers with the general population, which included 971 U.S. adults who were not frontline health workers. The sample error rate for the frontline health workers group is 3 percentage points and the national comparative sample is 4 percentage points. Results based on subgroups may have a higher sampling error rate.