Healthcare Workers Face Increased Insomnia Risk Due to COVID-19

April 14, 2020
Kenny Walter

Kenny Walter is an editor with HCPLive. Prior to joining MJH Life Sciences in 2019, he worked as a digital reporter covering nanotechnology, life sciences, material science and more with R&D Magazine. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Temple University in 2008 and began his career as a local reporter for a chain of weekly newspapers based on the Jersey shore. When not working, he enjoys going to the beach and enjoying the shore in the summer and watching North Carolina Tar Heel basketball in the winter.

Medical staff members with insomnia also had higher levels of depression than healthcare workers without insomnia.

As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to wage on, many healthcare workers are facing longer hours with the potential for more sleep problems.

A team, led by Chenxi Zhang, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, investigated the prevalence rate of insomnia and confirmed the related social psychological factors among medical staff members in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The investigators recruited medical staff members in China, including frontline medical workers, for a questionnaire. They also obtained demographic data and asked self-design questions related to the outbreak, insomnia, depressive, and anxiety symptoms, and stress-related symptoms.

The team used logistic regression analysis to examine the links between the sociodemographic factors and insomnia symptoms.

A total of 1563 individuals participated in the study, with 564 (36.1%) had insomnia symptoms according to the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) (total ≥ 8).

Overall, the individuals with insomnia had significantly higher levels of depression than healthcare workers included in the study who did not suffer from insomnia (87.1% vs. 31%).

This was particularly true in moderate (22.9% vs. 2.8%) and severe (16.7% vs. 1.8%) cases.

Using a multiple binary logistic regression model, the investigators discovered insomnia symptoms are associated with the education level of high school or below (OR, 2.69; P = 0.042; 95% CI, 1.0-7.0), occupation of doctor (OR, 0.44; P = 0.44; 95% CI, 0.2-0.8), currently work in an isolation unit (OR, 1.71; P = 0.038; 95% CI, 1.0-2.8), and worry about being infected (OR, 2.30; P <0.001; 95% CI, 1.6-3.4).

Insomnia was also linked to a perceived a lack of helpfulness in terms of psychological support from news or social media with regard to COVID-19 (OR, 2.10; P = 0.001; 95% CI, 1.3-3.3) and having very strong uncertainty regarding effective disease control )OR, 3.30; P = 0.013; 95% CI, 1.3-8.5).

“Our study found that more than one-third of the medical staff suffered from insomnia symptoms during the COVID-19 outbreak,” the authors wrote. “The related factors included education level, an isolation environment, psychological worries about the COVID-19 outbreak, and occupation of doctor. Interventions for insomnia among medical staff are needed considering the different sociopsychological factors.”

Overall, frontline healthcare workers, women, and nurses exposed to COVID-19 are at a greater risk of developing unfavorable mental health outcomes, according to new research.

Due to the toll COVID-19 is taking on both patients and providers alike, Jianbo Lai, MSc, and a team of China-based investigators used data from >1200 healthcare workers to assess the magnitude of mental health outcomes and associated factors among those treating patients who were exposed to the virus in China.

The team found that among the Chinese workers exposed to COVID-19, women, nurses, those in Wuhan, and frontline healthcare workers had a greater risk of worsening mental health outcomes than average.

The findings suggested that such individuals may need psychological support or interventions.

Half of participants (50.4%) had symptoms of depression, while 44.6% had anxiety symptoms, 34% had symptoms of insomnia, and 71.5% showed signs of distress.

The study, “Survey of insomnia and related social psychological factors among medical staff involved with the 2019 novel coronavirus disease outbreak,” was published online in Frontiers in Psychiatry.