Unique Workplace Concerns Tied to Health Worker Depression, Anxiety During Pandemic

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Associations seen for working on the hospital unit, mood disturbances, and sleep disturbances with depression, anxiety

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 25, 2023 (HealthDay News) — For health care workers (HCWs) seeking psychotherapy treatment during spring 2020, workplace-related concerns were associated with moderate-to-severe anxiety and depression symptoms, according to a study published online Oct. 24 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Matteo Malgaroli, Ph.D., from the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University in New York City, and colleagues used natural language processing methods to examine deidentified psychotherapy transcripts from telemedicine treatment during the initial wave of COVID-19 in the United States to identify specific concerns emerging in treatment for HCWs. The case-control study included a sample of 820 HCWs and 820 matched non-HCW controls who received digitally delivered psychotherapy in 49 states during the first COVID-19 wave. Depression and anxiety were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and the General Anxiety Disorder-7 questionnaire.

The researchers identified four treatment topics centered on health care and five on mental health for HCWs based on a structural topic model (STM) analysis of transcripts. For controls, three STM topics on pandemic-related disruptions and five on mental health were identified. Significant associations were seen for several STM treatment topics with moderate-to-severe anxiety and depression, including working on the hospital unit, mood disturbances, and sleep disturbances (topic prevalence rates, 0.035, 0.014, and 0.016, respectively). For non-HCW controls, there were no significant associations observed between pandemic-related topics and moderate-to-severe anxiety and depression.

“These results suggest that natural language processing may one day become an effective screening tool for detecting and tracking anxiety and depression symptoms,” senior author Naomi Simon, M.D., from NYU Langone, said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed ties to the biopharmaceutical industry. One author is an employee of the platform that provided the data.

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