A Key Factor for Psychosomatic Burden of Frontline Medical Staff : Occupational Pressure During the COVID-19 Pandemic in China

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Original languageEnglish
Article number590101
Journal / PublicationFrontiers in Psychiatry
Online published18 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021



The global outbreak of COVID-19 has severely affected the entire population, especially healthcare staff on the frontline, who bear heavy psychosomatic burdens. A cross-sectional study was conducted with 723 participants in China from April 26 to May 9, 2020. We evaluated the psychosomatic status, including depression, anxiety, quality of life, somatic symptoms, stress, sleep disturbances, and posttraumatic stress symptoms in different exposure groups. We explored the risk factors that affect psychosomatic burdens and analyzed the relationship between psychosomatic problems and medical occupations. We found that the psychosomatic burdens of medical staff were significantly greater than those of non-medical staff (p < 0.01) and were positively related with the number of COVID-19 patients they came in contact with. Occupational pressure was a key factor for healthcare staff's psychosomatic problems (p < 0.01 for quality of life, somatic symptoms, anxiety, depression, stress; p = 0.012 for sleep disturbances), and it had a strong canonical correlation (p < 0.01). Workload and time allocation (WTA), one of the subdimensional indicators of occupational pressure, was strongly correlated with psychosomatic indicators. We suggest that rationalization of WTA is a desirable approach for anti-epidemic medical employees to alleviate psychosomatic burdens. Public health interventions should be undertaken to reduce the occupational pressure on this special population, which is critical for mitigation. This study presents results regarding the psychosomatic burdens of the healthcare workforce related to occupational pressure and provides multilevel data with groups of different exposure risks for policymakers to protect medical personnel. These findings draw attention to the working environments of healthcare workers and provide applicable results for clinical practice.

Research Area(s)

  • COVID-19, psychosomatic health, medical staff, risk factor, occupational health

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