Physical and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers: A scoping review

Natasha Shaukat, Daniyal Mansoor Ali, Junaid Razzak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

495 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to 198 countries, with approximately 2.4 million confirmed cases and 150,000 deaths globally as of April 18. Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) face a substantially higher risk of infection and death due to excessive COVID-19 exposure. This review aimed at summarizing the evidence of the physical and mental health impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on health-care workers (HCWs). Methods: We used the Arksey O'Malley framework to conduct a scoping review. A systematic literature search was conducted using two databases: PubMed and Google Scholar. We found 154 studies, and out of which 10 met our criteria. We collected information on the date of publication, first author's country, the title of the article, study design, study population, intervention and outcome, and key findings, and divided all research articles into two domains: physical and mental health impact. Results: We reviewed a total of 154 articles from PubMed (126) and Google Scholar (28), of which 58 were found to be duplicate articles and were excluded. Of the remaining 96 articles, 82 were excluded after screening for eligibility, and 4 articles did not have available full texts. Ten full-text articles were reviewed and included in this study. Our findings identified the following risk factors for COVID-19-related health impact: working in a high-risk department, diagnosed family member, inadequate hand hygiene, suboptimal hand hygiene before and after contact with patients, improper PPE use, close contact with patients (≥ 12 times/day), long daily contact hours (≥ 15 h), and unprotected exposure. The most common symptoms identified amongst HCWs were fever (85%), cough (70%), and weakness (70%). Prolonged PPE usage led to cutaneous manifestations and skin damage (97%), with the nasal bridge (83%) most commonly affected site. HCWs experienced high levels of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress. Female HCWs and nurses were disproportionately affected. Conclusion: The frontline healthcare workers are at risk of physical and mental consequences directly as the result of providing care to patients with COVID-19. Even though there are few intervention studies, early data suggest implementation strategies to reduce the chances of infections, shorter shift lengths, and mechanisms for mental health support could reduce the morbidity and mortality amongst HCWs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Health impacts
  • Healthcare workers
  • Occupational health
  • Risk factors


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