High rates of probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) have been reported for frontline health care staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, rates determined by diagnostic assessment are unknown, as are the onset of symptoms and associated index events.
We assessed frontline health care staff with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5.
Forty-four percent met criteria for PTSD and 39% met criteria for MDD. Twenty-four percent reported COVID-19 trauma as their index event, with the majority of staff reporting trauma that pre-dated the pandemic. While PTSD was likely to be pre-existing, MDD was more likely to develop during pandemic working.
These findings indicate the propensity of health care staff to experience a range of occupational and personal trauma associated with PTSD and the need to assess index trauma when diagnosing psychopathology in order to best understand the needs of this workforce.
We found high diagnostic rates of PTSD (44%) and major depression (39%) among frontline healthcare staff working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although major depression developed during the pandemic, PTSD was more likely to be pre-existing.
When assessing pandemic-related psychopathology, it is important to assess the onset and index event related to symptoms.
Healthcare workers appear to have high rates of PTSD related to occupational and personal trauma, which warrants specific focus in service planning.