Researchers at Mount Sinai conducted a study to assess the physiological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers, utilizing both wearable devices and a customized mobile health application. This study included 361 healthcare workers from seven different hospitals in the New York City health system. These participants completed weekly surveys to assess their perceived stress, emotional support, resilience, optimism, and quality of life. The wearable devices were used to measure heart rate variability, a marker of stress. This study highlights the importance of emotional support and resilience in helping healthcare workers cope with the pandemic.
The research showed that healthcare workers with high levels of resilience, optimism, and emotional support were less likely to experience stress, both perceived and longitudinal. This was due to their autonomic nervous system’s different stress patterns compared to those with low resilience or lacking emotional support. According to Robert Hirten, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine and the study’s corresponding author, this emphasizes the importance of resilience and emotional support in moderating the effects of stress on healthcare workers during the pandemic. Therefore, assessing the resilience and emotional support of healthcare workers may help identify those at risk and guide healthcare institutions in allocating mental health resources accordingly. Moreover, the number of COVID-19 cases in the community had a significant impact on longitudinal stress, with healthcare workers more likely to experience stress when they saw an abundance of COVID-19 cases.
In addition, the study also revealed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers. According to the study, not only did the number of COVID-19 cases in the community affect levels of stress, but also the levels of resilience and emotional support the workers had access to. The findings suggest that, for healthcare workers, having access to social and emotional support is incredibly important, especially during a pandemic. Without adequate support, healthcare workers may suffer from increased emotional and physiological stress. As co-author of the study Zahi Fayad, PhD, put it: “The experience of this pandemic has been especially stressful for healthcare workers, and as a community we need to be able to support them, especially as the virus persists.” The results of this study emphasize the importance of providing healthcare workers with the necessary resources to help them cope with the stress of the pandemic