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Front-line workers susceptible to mental disorders amid pandemic, study finds

/ 08:19 PM November 01, 2020
medical

Medical professionals are at work last month inside a COVID-19 testing center in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

SEOUL — Front-line medical professionals taking care of COVID-19 patients are at risk of developing mental illnesses, a study said Sunday.

According to a study conducted by Yeungnam University researchers published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, 33.3 percent of 1,003 health care workers at a hospital in Daegu were found to be highly susceptible to depression.

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It also found 12.5 percent of them to be at a high risk of anxiety disorder.

When compared to the general population, the figure was 5.9 times higher for depression and 2.9 times higher for anxiety disorders, the study added.

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Daegu was host to the first large coronavirus outbreak outside of China between late February and March, reporting hundreds of new cases each day traced to a church there. The mass outbreak quickly depleted medical resources, spiking the workload for health care workers for months.

The study also found that nurses were more susceptible to depression than other professionals and those who came in close contact with COVID-19 patients were in greater danger of mental disorders than those who had not.

Out of the 1,003 surveyed, 14.2 percent worked at wards treating COVID-19 patients, and 15.2 percent came into direct contact with confirmed patients.

Researchers said better working conditions and mental welfare policies are needed to protect the mental health of front-line workers who played a pivotal part in controlling and taking care of the coronavirus situation in Korea.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, frontline workers, mental health, South korea
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