Pandemics precipitate feelings of discomfort and anxiety in healthcare professionals. This study investigates the prevalence of anxiety and depression among public primary health care professionals (PHCPs) in Greece, along with the demographic risk factors, during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to address work exhaustion and protect frontline professionals’ psycho-emotional balance. This cross-sectional study was conducted from June 2021 to August 2021, using an online questionnaire (demographic data, GAD-7, PHQ-9). Eligible participants (medical, nursing, allied professionals) were PHCPs employed in Greek public PHC facilities. Analysis involved descriptive statistics to present sociodemographic characteristics, participants’ experience with COVID-19, anxiety and depression levels. Univariate analysis was performed to evaluate the association between sociodemographic factors and the anxiety and depression levels, and multivariable logistic regression was used to investigate the presence of predictive factors for anxiety and depression. In total, 236 PHCPs participated in the study, with a mean age of 46 (SD 9.3) years and a mean professional experience of 14.71 (SD 9.2) years. Most participants were women (71.4%) and the majority were General Practitioners (38.9%) and Nurses (35.2%). Anxiety (33.1% mild, 29.9% moderate/ severe) and depression (33.9% mild, 25.9% moderate/ severe) were prevalent among PHCPs. The female gender is the most important predictor of anxiety manifestations (OR:3.50, 95%CI:1.39-10.7; p=0.014). Participants older than 50 years have a lower risk of both anxiety (OR=0.46, 95%CI:0.20-0.99; p=0.049) and depression (OR=0.48, 95%CI:0.23-0.95; p=0.039). PHCPs working in rural facilities have a lower risk of anxiety (OR:0.34, 95%CI:0.137-0.80; p=0.016). Previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 was not associated either with anxiety (p=0.087) or with depression (p=0.056). Notably, having a friend, relative, or coworker who was hospitalized for COVID-19 or died from it, was not associated with the presence of anxiety or depressive symptoms. Additionally, living with someone in a high-risk group for severe SARS-CoV-2, living with children or being at high risk for severe COVID-19 was not associated with higher GAD-7 and PHQ-9 scores. Findings indicate concerning levels of psychological distress among PHCPs. Early recognition of emotional discomfort in PHCPs and the prompt intervention could reinforce PHCPs' resilience against the pandemic.

KEYWORDS: Anxiety, depression, pandemic, primary health care, occupational mental health, family practice.

Magda Gavana, Dimitra Iosifina Papageorgiou, Panagiotis Stachteas, Nikolaos Vlachopoulos, Ilias Pagkozidis, Paraskevi Angelopoulou, Anna Bettina Haidich, Emmanouil Smyrnakis


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