The mental health of NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic: two-wave Scottish cohort study

Johannes Hendrikus De Kock, Helen Ann Latham, Richard Cowden, Breda Cullen, Katia Narzisi, Shaun W Jerdan, Sarah-Anne Munoz, Stephen J Leslie, Neil McNamara, Adam Boggon, Roger Humphry

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Health and social care workers (HSCWs) are at risk of experiencing adverse mental health outcomes (e.g. higher levels of anxiety and depression) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This can have a detrimental effect on quality of care, the national response to the pandemic and its aftermath.

Aims: A longitudinal design provided follow-up evidence on the mental health (changes in prevalence of disease over time) of NHS staff working at a remote health board in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic, and investigated the determinants of mental health outcomes over time.

Method: A two-wave longitudinal study was conducted from July to September 2020. Participants self-reported levels of depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7) and mental well-being (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale) at baseline and 1.5 months later.

Results: The analytic sample of 169 participants, working in community (43%) and hospital (44%) settings, reported substantial levels of depression and anxiety, and low mental well-being at baseline (depression, 30.8%; anxiety, 20.1%; well-being, 31.9%). Although mental health remained mostly constant over time, the proportion of participants meeting the threshold for anxiety increased to 27.2% at follow-up. Multivariable modelling indicated that working with, and disruption because of, COVID-19 were associated with adverse mental health changes over time.

Conclusions: HSCWs working in a remote area with low COVID-19 prevalence reported substantial levels of anxiety and depression, similar to those working in areas with high COVID-19 prevalence. Efforts to support HSCW mental health must remain a priority, and should minimise the adverse effects of working with, and disruption caused by, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23
Number of pages10
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2022


  • Staff
  • Mental health
  • risk factors
  • Covid-19
  • National Health Service


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