Fragile heroes. The psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health-care workers in Italy

PloS One
Chiara ContiPiero Porcelli


This survey-based study aimed to explore the mental health status and psychological care needs of 933 health-care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 outbreak. Sociodemographic data, exposure to COVID-19, perception of psychological care needs, depression, anxiety, somatization, and post-traumatic symptoms were concurrently assessed. The majority of the sample (71%) suffered from somatization and 55% of distress. Female care workers experienced higher levels of anxiety (d = 0.50) and somatization symptoms (d = 0.82) and stated they needed psychological care more than men (p < .001). Younger participants (aged <40 years-old) reported higher levels of somatization, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic symptoms (effects size range from d = 0.22 to d = 0.31). Working in a high infected area (red-zones) and directly with COVID-19 patients (front-line) affected the psychological health of participants to a smaller degree. Health-care workers who lost one of their patients reported higher levels of depression (d = 0.22), anxiety (d = 0.19), post-traumatic symptoms (d = 0.30), and psychological care needs than those who did not have the same experience (p < .01). Health-care workers who perceived the need for psychological support ...Continue Reading


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