Health, Europe

'Post-traumatic stress rampant in Spain’s health staff'

Survey finds 53% of Spanish healthcare workers show signs of post-traumatic stress due to pandemic

Alyssa McMurtry   | 19.05.2020
'Post-traumatic stress rampant in Spain’s health staff'

OVIEDO, Spain

In the aftermath of the devastating first wave of COVID-19 in Spain, over half of the country’s healthcare workers are showing signs of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, a new study suggests.

The first results of a survey conducted by a psychology group from the Complutense University of Madrid found that 53% of healthcare workers surveyed showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Nearly 80% of healthcare staff also presented signs of anxiety, with 21.2% manifesting signs compatible with severe anxiety disorder.

On top of that, 51% of those surveyed manifested signs of depression -- severe depression in 5.6% of the cases.

The study surveyed 1,243 healthcare workers, the majority of whom were based in Madrid.

With over 27,000 COVID-19 deaths, Spain has the second-highest confirmed COVID-19 deaths per capita from the infectious disease in the world.

At the peak of the crisis, many hospitals, especially in the Madrid region, were teetering on the brink of collapse, unable to cope with the surge of extremely sick patients.

Spain also has the highest recorded number of infected healthcare workers in the world.

Of the 231,606 coronavirus infections that have been confirmed in the country -- over 51,000 have been in healthcare workers.

On Saturday, digital daily El Espanol counted a total of 76 deaths amongst Spain’s medical staff so far.

The university study found that 75% of respondents were “very worried” that they could infect a loved one, and 70% said their places of work were lacking individual protective equipment.

“We believe a rapid psychological intervention in this group would be helpful. If a feared second wave comes, we will find emotionally damaged professionals and a healthcare system without the capacity to respond,” wrote the study’s authors Lourdes Luceno Moreno and Jesus Martín Garcia.

While 40% of the healthcare workers surveyed said they were emotionally exhausted, the authors also reported that 81.3% said they felt very satisfied with their work.

The pandemic has claimed nearly 320,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since originating in China last December.

The US, Europe, and Russia are currently the world’s worst-hit regions.

More than 4.82 million cases have been reported worldwide and over 1.8 million people have recovered to date, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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