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The psychological effect of severe acute respiratory syndrome on emergency department staff
  1. C-Y Lin1,
  2. Y-C Peng3,
  3. Y-H Wu5,
  4. J Chang3,
  5. C-H Chan2,
  6. D-Y Yang4
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry, Chang Hwa Hospital, Department of Health, Chang Hwa, Taiwan, ROC
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC
  3. 3Department of Emergency Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC
  4. 4Department of Neurosurgery, Show Chwan Memorial Hospital, Chang Bin, Chang Hwa, Taiwan, ROC
  5. 5Division of Dermatology, Department of Health, Fong Yuan Hospital, Fong Yuan, Taiwan; Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to:
 Y-C Peng
 Department of Emergency, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Number 160, Sector 3, Chung-Kang Road, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC 407; pychun{at}vghtc.gov.tw

Abstract

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.

  • CHQ-12, Chinese Health Questionnaire-12
  • DTS-C, Davidson Trauma Scale-Chinese version
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder
  • SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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