A large percentage of infection preventionists (IPs) reported that the stress of COVID-19 worsened their mental and physical health, indicating the need to deal with the problems that lead to fatigue and improve work performance and retention, according to the results of a survey reported yesterday in American Journal of Infection Control.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from Ohio State University and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) sent emails to a random survey of 6,000 APIC members on health and wellness issues, lifestyle habits, and occupational health services at the time of COVID-19.

Participants also answered questions on three questionnaires: Patient Health Questionnaire-2, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2, and Professional Quality of Life.

The majority of respondents (93.5%) were female, aged 35 to 64 (77.1%), White (86.8%), married or in a relationship (82.5%), had a bachelor’s degree (41.2%) or a master’s degree (42.3%), they worked 9 to 10 hours a day (58.2%), worked in hospitals (68.1%), did not smoke (92.1%), and were light drinkers (69.3%).

In the midst of the pandemic, IPs had to adapt to rapidly emerging disease prevention strategies, lack of personal protective equipment, increased hospital-acquired infections, and workloads, the authors wrote.

Only 17% report a high standard of living

Of the 6,000 invited, 926 (15%) completed the survey. Almost two thirds indicated that they had good health (68.9%) and good health (66.0%). But the respondents also reported sleeping at least 7 hours a night (34.1%), exercising at least 150 minutes a week (18.8%), and eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day (7.3%) ), along with a large number of depression (21.5%), anxiety (29.8%), and fatigue (65%).

Only 16.9% of respondents said they had a very good quality of life (QOL), while 74.0% said the epidemic had affected their mental health, and 60% reported that their health was poor. A total of 37.4% reported increased alcohol consumption during the epidemic, as well as worse sleep (77%), less exercise (64.5%), and less fruit and vegetable consumption (61.1%).

Front-line IPs and exercisers and managers and directors were the most affected by the epidemic in terms of health, while those in other positions were more likely to express an opinion on exercise (odd ratio). [OR], 2.68. Higher percentages of frontline and IPs (74.1%) and managers and supervisors (76.3%) reported better health than those in other positions (61.4%).

People who considered themselves to be in good health in this group were more likely to sleep 7 hours a night, meet exercise goals, and not smoke. Compared to IPs who said they had little or no support, those whose employers helped them to maintain good health “a lot or a little” were 67% more likely to sleep 7 hours a night, 35% failed to report sleep worse , with 43% less chance. to report a lack of physical activity.

IPs with workplace support were more likely to have better mental health (OR, 1.81) and less depression (OR, 1.51), anxiety (OR, 1.86), or burnout (OR, 1.77) than those with less support. IPs whose employers support good or moderate health had more problems in health indicators than those with less support, with scores of 1.94 for physical health to 9.00 for high QOL experts.

IPs who work 9 to 11 hours or more per day are less likely to get enough sleep and report poorer physical and mental health than those who work 8 hours or less. A greater percentage of IPs than non-White IPs were less likely to report good health (OR, 0.59) and more likely to report good health (OR, 1.58), no depression or anxiety, less anxiety, and higher. expert QOL.

IP registration, the key to maintaining good health

With a 25% vacancy rate for IPs and 40% expected to retire in the next decade, recruiting and retaining highly skilled IPs is critical to maintaining quality and health care, the researchers said.

“Given that medical malpractice increases the rate of turnover, APIC must continue to acknowledge the importance of investing in workplaces that promote quality of life through ’empowerment, risk-taking, action, resilience, transparency, and respect,'” he wrote. .

The authors said that medical institutions should take action now to better protect the health and safety of IPs, including addressing systemic issues such as short working hours and long shifts that lead to fatigue and poor health, and introducing or improving mental health programs and evaluations.

“Infectious agents have greatly helped hospitals provide safer care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” APIC President Linda Dickey, RN, MPH, who was not an author of the study, said in an APIC news release. “The fact that so many are showing signs of burnout is concerning and should prompt employers to have health promotion programs to retain these talented professionals.”

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