Objective: The study is an explorative investigation aimed to assess the differences in acute stress response patterns of health workers facing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during Italy’s first lockdown.
Methods: A cross-sectional investigation using convenience sampling method was conducted in Italy during April 2020. Eight hundred fifty-eight health workers participated in the research filling out self-report measures including Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7), Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and Impact of Event Scale–Revised (IES-R).
Results: Moderate/severe depression was found in 28.9% (95% CI, 25.8–32.04), moderate/severe anxiety in 55.4% (95% CI, 51.9–58.8), insomnia in 15% (95% CI, 12.5–17.5), and distress in 52.5% (95% CI, 48.5%–56.6) of participants. The 3% of health workers reported frequent suicidal thoughts. Female sex, working for >15 h/week in a COVID-19 unit, and living apart from family were associated with a significantly higher risk of distress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and functional impairment. Four profiles were identified on the basis of psychopathological measures: Profile_0 included 44% (N = 270); Profile_1, 25.6% (N = 157); Profile_2, 19.1% (N = 117); and Profile_3, 11.3% (N = 69) of participants. Results showed a significant effect for Profiles X IES-R (η2 = 0.079; f = 0.29), indicating that in all profiles, except for Profile_0, avoidance scale is lower than hyperarousal and intrusion symptoms scales of the IES-R. This characteristic could be a probable index of the control exerted by the responders to not fly away from their job.
Conclusion: The identification of specific profiles could help psychiatrists and emergency psychologists to build specific interventions in terms of both primary and secondary prevention to face future waves of the COVID-19 outbreak.