The association between the perceived adequacy of workplace infection control procedures and personal protective equipment with mental health symptoms: a cross-sectional survey of Canadian health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Publication type
Journal article
Smith PM, Oudyk J, Potter G, Mustard C
Date published
2021 Jan 01
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
Open Access?

OBJECTIVES: To examine the relationship between perceived adequacy of personal protective equipment (PPE) and workplace-based infection control procedures (ICP) and mental health symptoms among a sample of health-care workers in Canada within the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: A convenience-based internet survey of health-care workers in Canada was facilitated through various labor organizations between April 7 and May 13, 2020. A total of 7,298 respondents started the survey, of which 5,988 reported information on the main exposures and outcomes. Anxiety symptoms were assessed using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-2) screener, and depression symptoms using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) screener. We assessed the perceived need and adequacy of 8 types of PPE and 10 different ICP. Regression analyses examined the proportion of GAD-2 and PHQ-2 scores of 3 and higher across levels of PPE and ICP, adjusted for a range of demographic, occupation, workplace, and COVID-19-specific measures. RESULTS: A total of 54.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 53.5% to 56.1%) of the sample had GAD-2 scores of 3 and higher, and 42.3% (95% CI, 41.0% to 43.6%) of the sample had PHQ-2 scores of 3 and higher. Absolute differences of 18% (95% CI, 12% to 23%) and 17% (95% CI, 12% to 22%) were observed in the prevalence of GAD-2 scores of 3 and higher between workers whose perceived PPE needs and ICP needs were met compared to those who needs were not met. Differences of between 11% (95% CI, 6% to 17%) and 19% (95% CI, 14% to 24%) were observed in PHQ-2 scores of 3 and higher across these same PPE and ICP categories. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest strengthening employer-based infection control strategies likely has important implications for the mental health symptoms among health-care workers in Canada