• Jade Marion

Vaccination rollout and the psychological health of frontline healthcare workers

Receptiviti's Healthcare Workers Wellness Index provides a linguistic analysis of Reddit submissions and comments written by 6,500 doctors and nurses. Since its launch in February 2021, the index has identified trends in emotions and psychological variables related to the healthcare worker experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the weeks immediately following the World Health Organization's declaration of the pandemic, the index recorded heightened levels of cognitive load, anger, fear, and anxiety. Additionally, significant decreases in empathy and analytical thinking levels were observed. Throughout subsequent months, language analysis indicated that such negative impacts on the wellbeing of healthcare workers persisted. For example, stress levels during the pandemic remained elevated in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. These findings are not surprising considering doctors and nurses have endured much throughout the pandemic, including but not limited to overcrowded hospitals, long work hours, and life or death decision making.

Though such hardships are yet to be a thing of the past, vaccine availability has provided many with hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As of June 18, 2021, over 45% of the US population is fully vaccinated, 60 % of the Canadian population has received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, but only 9.6 of the global population has been fully vaccinated. However, around the world, lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted.

Vaccination trend is impacting healthcare workers' wellbeing

Through the index, we can explore healthcare workers' emotional and psychological wellbeing during this new period of the pandemic when individuals are being vaccinated. In April and May of 2021, cognitive load, stress, and anxiety levels began to subside for nurses and doctors. Also, analytical thinking levels began increasing. This suggests that healthcare workers may be experiencing the start of a recovery. Reduced cognitive load and higher analytical thinking are associated with less mental strain and a greater ability to consciously process information and engage in clearer decision-making. This is great news for doctors and nurses who have sacrificed much working on the frontlines of the pandemic as well as for patients whose lives depend on healthcare workers.

No one knows how long it will take for the healthcare industry nor the world to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it may be comforting to see that some advancements are being made. It will be interesting to continue tracking the wellbeing of healthcare workers and see if there is a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels of emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Please check out the index, and share it with your network. In doing so, you may assist in spreading awareness on how the pandemic and vaccination efforts impact our doctors and nurses. This may help us all make informed decisions in support of the life-saving efforts of healthcare workers. Please show you care through your share.