STUDY: The psychological wellbeing of frontline workers in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: First and second wave findings from the COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium (C19PRC) Study
Background: Extant research relating to the psychological impact of infectious respiratory disease epidemics/pandemics suggests that frontline workers are particularly vulnerable. Methods: The current study used data from the first two waves of the United Kingdom (UK) survey of the COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium (C19PRC) Study to compare frontline workers with the rest of the UK population on prevalence estimates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD during the first week of ‘lockdown’ (Wave 1) and one month later (Wave 2). Results: Compared to the rest of the population, frontline workers generally, and individual frontline worker groups, had significantly higher prevalence estimates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD during both wave 1 and wave 2. While prevalence estimates of depression significantly increased among Local & National Government Workers from Wave 1 (15.4%) to Wave 2 (38.5%), no significant improvement or deterioration in mental health status was recorded for any other frontline worker group. Multivariate binary logistic regression analysis showed that, beyond other risk factors, food workers were nearly twice as likely as others to screen positive for anxiety, while all frontline worker groups, other than transport workers, were significantly more likely to screen positive for PTSD (Odds Ratios ranged from 1.74 – 3.43). Finally, while frontline workers, generally, were significantly more likely than the general public to have received mental health advice during the pandemic (26.9% versus 20.3% respectively), this was largely reflective of health and social care workers (37.9%). Conclusions: These findings offer timely and valuable information on the psychological health status of UK’s frontline workforce during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and may aid in preparations for their future psychological and mental health support.
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