Psychological Distress in Primary Healthcare Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Greece

Stavros Cheristanidis, Dimitrios Kavvadas, Dimos Moustaklis, Efthymia Kyriakidou, Dimitra Batzou, Efstathios Sidiropoulos, Georgios Papazisis, Theodora Papamitsou


Objective. The present study aims to evaluate the symptoms of psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Greek primary healthcare workers, correlating them with their individual characteristics.

Materials and Methods. The research is based on a self-report questionnaire distributed to primary HCWs of Thessaloniki’s public health care units. A sample of 143 respondents was gathered. The questionnaire consists of 21 items: 6 demographic questions, 9 on personal distress, 5 on work-related distress and 1 on one dominant feeling of the participants. These items were based on existing validated measures, such as the “Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21”, the “Kessler Psychological Distress Scale-10”, “General Health Questionnaire-28” and “Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale”. The associations between participants’ gender, education, specialty and parenthood were determined with Pearson’s chi-squared (χ2) test.

Results. Overall, 70.4% of HCWs were generally affected by the pandemic. The personal distress factors revealed that the majority (67%) experienced distress due to routine changes. The effects on health behavior (sleep, eating behavior and substance use) were not high. Psychological/psychiatric needs were relatively low, while negative emotions and need of social support were high. 31.4% displayed intense emotional instability. All work-related distress factors were rated high. Worry about contracting COVID-19 in the workplace scored the highest (82.6%). Almost half of the participants felt exposed to COVID-19 infection (47.0%). Anxiety (47.2%) and burn-out (78.4%) symptoms were also revealed. Female participants appeared to be more anxious (P<0.01) and upset (P=0.013).

Conclusion. The exposure to a constant risk could potentially lead to an increase in HCWs’ psychological distress. Designing the right tools and organizing the right plans are of paramount importance to prevent the deterioration of their wellness and quality of life.


SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; Healthcare Workers; Personal Psychological Distress; Work-Related Psychological Distress

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2019 Department of Medical Sciences, Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. All rights reserved.
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