The mental health of staff working on intensive care units over the COVID-19 winter surge of 2020 in England: a cross sectional survey

Charlotte E. Hall, Joanna Milward, Cristina Spoiala, Jaskiran K. Bhogal, Dale Weston, Henry W.W. Potts, Tristan Caulfield, Michael Toolan, Kate Kanga, Sarah El-Sheikha, Kevin Fong, Neil Greenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic generated a surge of critically ill patients greater than the capacity of the UK National Health Service (NHS). There have been multiple well-documented impacts associated with the national COVID-19 pandemic surge on ICU staff, including an increased prevalence of mental health disorders on a scale potentially sufficient to impair high-quality care delivery. We investigated the prevalence of five mental health outcomes; explored demographic and professional predictors of poor mental health outcomes; and describe the prevalence of functional impairment; and explore demographic and professional predictors of functional impairment in ICU staff over the 2020/2021 winter COVID-19 surge in England. 

Methods: English ICU staff were surveyed before, during, and after the winter 2020/2021 surge using a survey which comprised validated measures of mental health. 

Results: A total of 6080 surveys were completed, by ICU nurses (57.5%), doctors (27.9%), and other healthcare staff (14.5%). Reporting probable mental health disorders increased from 51% (before) to 64% (during), and then decreased to 46% (after). Younger, less experienced nursing staff were most likely to report probable mental health disorders. During and after the winter, >50% of participants met threshold criteria for functional impairment. Staff who reported probable post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression were more likely to meet threshold criteria for functional impairment. 

Conclusions: The winter of 2020/2021 was associated with an increase in poor mental health outcomes and functional impairment amongst ICU staff during a period of peak caseload. These effects are likely to impact on patient care outcomes and the longer-term resilience of the healthcare workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-979
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Volume128
Issue number6
Early online date24 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The National Institute for Health Research Health Protection
Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between Public Health England, King’s College London and the University of East Anglia. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, Public Health England, the UK Health Security Agency, or the Department of Health and Social Care (NIHR20008900).

NG runs a consultancy which provides the NHS with active listening and peer support training. KF works at University College London Hospitals as a consultant anaesthetist, holds an academic chair at University College London, and is seconded to NHS England as an advisor. HWWP has received funding from Public Health England and from NHS England. HWWP has a PhD student who works at and has fees paid by AstraZeneca . KK works for the Care Quality Commission.

Open Access: Free to read, but no Open Access licence.

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of British Journal of Anaesthesia.

Citation: Charlotte E. Hall, Joanna Milward, Cristina Spoiala, Jaskiran K. Bhogal, Dale Weston, Henry W.W. Potts, Tristan Caulfield, Michael Toolan, Kate Kanga, Sarah El-Sheikha, Kevin Fong, Neil Greenberg, The mental health of staff working on intensive care units over the COVID-19 winter surge of 2020 in England: a cross sectional survey, British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 128, Issue 6, 2022, Pages 971-979, ISSN 0007-0912,

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bja.2022.03.016.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • PTSD
  • functional impairment
  • healthcare worker
  • intensive care
  • mental health
  • presenteeism

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The mental health of staff working on intensive care units over the COVID-19 winter surge of 2020 in England: a cross sectional survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this