Article Text

Original research
COVID-19 risk management at the workplace, fear of infection and fear of transmission of infection among frontline employees
  1. Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen1,
  2. Charlotte Juul Nilsson1,
  3. Maria Juul-Madsen2,
  4. Charlotte Bredal2,
  5. Lars Ole Preisler Hansen2,
  6. Åse Marie Hansen1,3
  1. 1Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Fag og Politik (FOA), Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. 3The National Research Center for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, 1014 Copenhagen, Denmark; nabe{at}


Objectives We compared COVID-19 risk management, fear of infection and fear of transmission of infection among frontline employees working within eldercare, hospital/rehabilitation, psychiatry, childcare and ambulance service and explored if group differences in fear of infection and transmission could be explained by differences in risk management. We also investigated the association of risk management with fear of infection and fear of transmission of infection among eldercare personnel.

Methods We used cross-sectional questionnaire data collected by the Danish labour union, FOA . Data were collected 5½ weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was registered in Denmark. Data for the first aim included 2623 participants. Data for the second aim included 1680 participants. All independent variables were mutually adjusted and also adjusted for sex, age, job title and region.

Results Fear of infection (49%) and fear of transmitting infection from work to the private sphere (68%) was most frequent in ambulance service. Fear of transmitting infection during work was most frequent in the eldercare (55%). Not all differences in fear of infection and transmission between the five areas of work were explained by differences in risk management. Among eldercare personnel, self-reported exposure to infection and lack of access to test was most consistently associated with fear of infection and fear of transmission, whereas lack of access to personal protective equipment was solely associated with fear of transmission.

Conclusion We have illustrated differences and similarities in COVID-19 risk management within five areas of work and provide new insights into factors associated with eldercare workers’ fear of infection and fear of transmission of infection.

  • health and safety
  • occupational health practice
  • public health
  • communicable diseases
  • health care workers

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.
View Full Text

Statistics from

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary Data

    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.


  • Contributors The collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and the labor union, FOA, was initiated by KN-N. The aim of the study was proposed by KN-N and CJN, and it was discussed and agreed on among all authors. KN-N drafted the manuscript. CJN and ÅMH critically revised the first version of the manuscript. Data were collected by MJ-M, CB and LOPH. MJ-M conducted all statistical analyses after agreement on the procedures among all authors. The final version was critically revised and approved by all authors.

  • Funding This work was supported through the authors’ employment and without any external funding.

  • Competing interests MJ-M, CB and LOPH are employed by the labor union, FOA, which works for the promotion of its members’ salary level and working conditions.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Currently, data are not freely available.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.