The psychological impact of the Coronavirus emergency on physicians and nurses: an Italian observational study

The psychological impact of the Coronavirus emergency on physicians and nurses: an Italian observational study


  • Maria Chiara Carriero Santa Chiara” Institute, Rome (RM), Italy
  • Luana Conte Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Research Applied to Medicine (DReAM), University of Salento and ASL (Local Health Authority) Lecce (LE), Italy; Laboratory of Biomedical Physics and Environment, Department of Mathematics and Physics “E. De Giorgi”, University of Salento, Lecce (LE), Italy
  • Marica Calignano University Hospital, Parma (Italy)
  • Roberto Lupo “San Giuseppe da Copertino" Hospital, ASL (Local Health Authority) Lecce, Italy
  • Antonino Calabrò "Nuovo Ospedale degli Infermi” Hospital, ASL (Local Health Authority), Biella, Italy
  • Pietro Santoro MathCounseling Lecce, Italy
  • Giovanna Artioli IRCCS, “Santa Maria Nuova” Hospital, USL (Local Health Authority) - Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Cosimo Caldararo University of Bari, Lecce, Italy
  • Maurizio Ercolani “ASUR Marche Area Vasta 2” Health Mental Department, Ancona, Italy
  • Maicol Carvello Brisighella Community Hospital, ASL (Local Health Authority) of Romagna, Brisighella, Italy
  • Antonio Leo “Santa Chiara” Institute, Lecce, Italy


psychological intervention, COVID-19, stress, anxiety, depression, psychological impact, Health workers, Mental health, Pandemic, Post-traumatic stress disorder.


Background. The Coronavirus has put a strain on the response capacity of health systems and there are various psychological effects on health workers.

Aim of the study. To investigate the psychological impact of the coronavirus emergency on physicians and nurses.

Materials and methods. A study was conducted on a sample of nurses and physicians (n=770), who were asked to fill in a questionnaire investigating physical and psychological problems. It also included the IES (Impact Event Scale), STAI (State Trait Anxiety Inventory) scale and BDI (Beck Depression Inventory).

Results. 87.7% of the sample was represented by nurses (n=675), 12.3% (n=95) by physicians. 52.3% (n=403) of the participants believed that they had not received good training on the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment. 18.2% (n=140) declared that they had experienced a moment in which they had had to choose among the patients whom to treat for an essential therapy. Among the psychological symptoms, stress (76.2%; n=587), anxiety (59.4%; n=457) and depression (11.8%) prevailed and only 3.9% of the healthcare personnel sought help from a psychologist. The total score of the IES-R scale was 3.47. A significant association emerged between exposure and the risk of contagion (p-value = 0.003), stress was more present among nurses than among physicians (77.5% vs. 67.4%; p = 0.003). Among physical symptoms, headache (52.2%; n=402) and pressure injuries (24.8% n= 191) prevailed.

Conclusions. The results of the study show that mental health monitoring of health workers, who are at risk of developing major psychological disorders, is a priority.


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Original articles: Health Professions 2/2021

How to Cite

Carriero MC, Conte L, Calignano M, Lupo R, Calabrò A, Santoro P, et al. The psychological impact of the Coronavirus emergency on physicians and nurses: an Italian observational study. Acta Biomed [Internet]. 2021 Jul. 29 [cited 2024 Jul. 17];92(S2):e2021030. Available from: