Background: The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 affected 29 countries. The SARS outbreak was unique in its rapid transmission and it resulted in heavy stress in first-line healthcare workers, particularly in the emergency department.
Aim: : To determine the influence of SARS on the psychological status, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, of the staff in the emergency department.
Methods: To investigate whether different working conditions in the hospital led to different psychological effects on healthcare workers, the psychological effect on emergency department staff in the high-risk ward was compared with that on psychiatric ward staff in the medium-risk ward. Davidson Trauma Scale-Chinese version (DTS-C) and Chinese Health Questionnaire-12 (CHQ-12) items were designed to check the psychological status of the staff in the month after the end of the SARS outbreak.
Results: 86 of 92 (93.5%) medical staff considered the SARS outbreak to be a traumatic experience. The DTS-C scores of staff in the emergency department and in the psychiatric ward were significantly different (p = 0.04). No significant difference in CHQ score was observed between the two groups. Emergency department staff had more severe PTSD symptoms than staff in the psychiatric ward.
Conclusion: SARS was a traumatic experience for healthcare providers in Taiwan. Most staff in the emergency department and in the psychiatric ward had PTSD. Emergency department staff had more severe PTSD symptoms than staff in the psychiatric ward.
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Competing interests: None declared.
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