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Psychological distress and resilience in first responders and health care workers during the COVID‐19 pandemic
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Volume: 94, Issue: 4, Pages: 789 - 807
Swansea University Authors: Nicola Gray , James Knowles
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DOI (Published version): 10.1111/joop.12364
During the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders and health care workers faced elevated virus-related risks through prolonged contacts with the public. Research suggests that these workers already experienced lower levels of psychological well-being linked to occupational risks. Thus, the pandemic’s i...
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders and health care workers faced elevated virus-related risks through prolonged contacts with the public. Research suggests that these workers already experienced lower levels of psychological well-being linked to occupational risks. Thus, the pandemic’s impact might have particularly affected mental health in these groups. This paper analysed data from a large-scale Welsh population study (N = 12,989) from June to July 2020. Levels of psychological distress were compared across various occupations, including police, fire and rescue, and NHS health care workers. Resilience was also indexed, and its role considered as a protective factor for psychological distress. Surprisingly, health care workers reported lower distress levels than the general population. Further, fire and rescue and police groups had lower distress than most groups and significantly higher resilience. Within police officers, higher resilience levels were protective for distress. Fire and rescue workers were half as likely as others to report distress, even accounting for demographic factors and resilience. The findings offer an optimistic view of psychological resilience in these critical occupations. They illustrate potential benefits to one’s mental health of playing a crucial societal role during crises and reiterate the importance of enhancing resilience within groups who encounter high-risk situations daily.
COVID-19; first responders; health care workers; mental wellbeing; pandemic; psychological distress; resilience
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences