Background. The whole hospital system was stressed and at risk in the first phase of the pandemic. This study examined the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in all hospital staff, medical and non-medical, within two months of the pandemic declaration. Survey concerned staff 4510 health workers of Italian Highly Specialized Research Hospitals.
Method. Subjects were asked to complete an on-line self-reported questionnaire, the PTSD Checklist 5 (PCL-5) and subjective perception of safety related to personal protective equipment (PPE).
Results. The sample included staff working in hospitals with or without COVID-19 patient admissions. Overall, 11.56% of the hospitals staff met the symptoms criteria for probable PTSD. The sample included 80.63% (3467) medical staff workers and 19.37% (833) non-medical staff workers. The 31.91% of participants worked in COVID-19 hospitals/wards. The prevalence of positive screening for PTSD symptoms in medical staff was 12.42% (426) and in non-medical staff, 8.59% (70). Among medical staff, anesthesiologists had a significant prevalence of PTSD (22.35%), followed by health care
assistants/technicians (15.38%) and physicians (10.11%). Among non-medical staff, personnel involved in cleaning, catering, maintenance, security, and transportation, the symptoms of PTSD reached a rate of 12.24% and in administrative staff 8.47%. Risk factors associated with PTSD included working as an anesthesiologist, perceiving PPE as inadequate, and working in COVID-19 hospitals/wards.
Conclusions. In the present study, as in other studies, the prevalence of PTSD symptoms among hospital workers was significatively higher than the lifetime prevalence of PTSD in the general population, showing the pandemic’s incredible impact.