June 5, 2023

Gender disparity in mental health risks for frontline HCWs during COVID-19 pandemic

Editor's Note

This study led by Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, finds that female frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) were more than twice as likely as men to screen positive for chronic stress-related psychological symptoms (18.7% vs 8.8%) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Symptoms included major depressive, generalized anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorders.

Of 3,360 frontline workers from Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, surveyed, 126 (16.0%) screened positive for chronic stress-related psychological symptoms.

The pre- and peri-COVID-19-pandemic risk factors that accounted for gender differences for these symptoms were:

  • being in a women-prevalent profession (ie, nursing)
  • prepandemic burnout
  • greater family, infection, and work-related concerns
  • lower leadership support.

The findings show the importance of gender inequities in work settings and home-based caregiving responsibilities, which may increase the likelihood of chronic stress, the researchers say.

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