Exploring the Well-being of Health Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Protocol for a Prospective Longitudinal Study Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background Health care workers (HCWs) have experienced several stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Structural stressors, including extended work hours, redeployment, and changes in organizational mandates, often intersect with interpersonal and personal stressors, such as caring for those with COVID-19 infections; worrying about infection of self, family, and loved ones; working despite shortages of personal protective equipment; and encountering various difficult moral-ethical dilemmas. Objective The paper describes the protocol for a longitudinal study seeking to capture the unique experiences, challenges, and changes faced by HCWs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study seeks to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of HCWs with a particular focus on moral distress, perceptions of and satisfaction with delivery of care, and how changes in work structure are tolerated among HCWs providing clinical services. Methods A prospective longitudinal design is employed to assess HCWs’ experiences across domains of mental health (depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and well-being), moral distress and moral reasoning, work-related changes and telehealth, organizational responses to COVID-19 concerns, and experiences with COVID-19 infections to self and to others. We recruited HCWs from across Canada through convenience snowball sampling to participate in either a short-form or long-form web-based survey at baseline. Respondents to the baseline survey are invited to complete a follow-up survey every 3 months, for a total of 18 months. Results A total of 1926 participants completed baseline surveys between June 26 and December 31, 2020, and 1859 participants provided their emails to contact them to participate in follow-up surveys. As of July 2021, data collection is ongoing, with participants nearing the 6- or 9-month follow-up periods depending on their initial time of self-enrollment. Conclusions This protocol describes a study that will provide unique insights into the immediate and longitudinal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dimensions of mental health, moral distress, health care delivery, and workplace environment of HCWs. The feasibility and acceptability of implementing a short-form and long-form survey on participant engagement and data retention will also be discussed. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) DERR1-10.2196/32663


  • Liu, Jenny JW
  • Nazarov, Anthony
  • Plouffe, Rachel A
  • Forchuk, Callista A
  • Deda, Erisa
  • Gargala, Dominic
  • Le, Tri
  • Bourret-Gheysen, Jesse
  • Soares, Vanessa
  • Nouri, Maede S
  • Hosseiny, Fardous
  • Smith, Patrick
  • Roth, Maya
  • MacDougall, Arlene G
  • Marlborough, Michelle
  • Jetly, Rakesh
  • Heber, Alexandra
  • Albuquerque, Joy
  • Lanius, Ruth
  • Balderson, Ken
  • Dupuis, Gabrielle
  • Mehta, Viraj
  • Richardson, Donald

publication date

  • September 27, 2021