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Psychological impact of quarantine on healthcare workers

Abstract

Objectives Exposure to infection is an inherent occupational risk for healthcare workers and may lead them to undergo quarantine during disease outbreaks. Both front-line battle and quarantine are stressful experiences that may make psychological support for healthcare workers necessary. Psychological support measures based on the best available evidence should be included in emergency plans worldwide. We summarise the research evidence on the psychological impact of quarantine on healthcare workers.

Methods We retrieved 470 articles on the psychological impact of quarantine on healthcare workers from the Web of Science and included in this review all 12 articles that met our inclusion criteria.

Results The reviewed studies reported acute stress during quarantine and long-lasting depressive, post-traumatic stress and alcohol dependency and abuse symptoms. Healthcare workers fear infection for themselves, but more so for their loved ones, and are also concerned about the stigma that may affect their families, most especially their children.

Conclusions The safety of healthcare workers and their families during disease outbreaks needs to be ensured. Suitable alternative accommodation and personalised monitoring during quarantine are useful intervention measures to prevent adverse effects in healthcare workers. Clear public health communication will help reduce uncertainty, guilt and stigma. Financial aid should be considered for the more severely affected workers. Finally, mental healthcare for healthcare workers should be a priority, as quarantines can be a mental distress trigger. The development of efficient referral paths and the provision of counselling or psychotherapy during the confinement period are an opportunity for early mental health interventions.

  • healthcare workers
  • health personnel
  • psychological stress
  • mental suffering
  • epidemic
  • pandemic
  • psychopathology
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