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Glasgow's Dr David MacTaggart estimates 43% of Northern Italy's care staff have been left with moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and PTSD working during the pandemic.

A recent study has revealed high levels of anxiety and PTSD amongst nursing and care home staff resulting from dealing with Covid-19. 

In the first detailed on the psychological impact of the first Covid-19 outbreak on nursing and care home staff, researchers, including Dr David MacTaggart of the University of Glasgow, estimate that 43% of Northern Italy’s care workers have been left with moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and PTSD as a result of their time working with the ill and dying during the first few months of the pandemic. 

Italy was one of the first European countries to be seriously affected when the pandemic first started to spread across the globe and has the world’s second-largest population of people aged 65 or over. Given that this group is more at risk of dying from the virus, nursing and care home staff were put under intense levels of physical and mental strain as they tried to navigate a sudden turn of events with little additional funding or equipment. This strain was especially prevalent in residential care homes. 

“Older patients were often transferred from hospital to nursing and care home settings to free up medical staff to care for younger patients, which hastened a rapid and deadly spread of the disease. Dealing with the consequences of that spread was incredibly difficult for nursing and care home staff on every level,” explains Dr MacTaggart. 

The research, conducted throughout June and July, discovered that of 1,071 respondents 43% had been affected by anxiety and PTSD symptomology resulting from their work during the early stages of the pandemic. The study also highlighted that there were higher levels of PTSD and anxiety amongst women, and those who had cared for Covid-19 positive patients. 

Researchers hope that the study can be used to develop preventative measures to support nursing and care staff during further outbreaks of the virus:

Dr MacTaggart reiterated this message saying: “We’ve built a strong framework for assessing levels of PTSD in nursing and care home staff, which we hope can be used to develop a more comprehensive framework for interventions for those who need them most. The team has now begun to develop such interventions.” The paper can be found in full here

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