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Can J Psychiatry. 2009 May;54(5):302-11.

The psychological impact of the SARS epidemic on hospital employees in China: exposure, risk perception, and altruistic acceptance of risk.

Author information

1
Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA. pw11@columbia.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We examined the psychological impact of the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on hospital employees in Beijing, China.

METHODS:

In 2006, randomly selected employees (n = 549) of a hospital in Beijing were surveyed concerning their exposure to the 2003 SARS outbreak, and the ways in which the outbreak had affected their mental health.

RESULTS:

About 10% of the respondents had experienced high levels of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms since the SARS outbreak. Respondents who had been quarantined, or worked in high-risk locations such as SARS wards, or had friends or close relatives who contracted SARS, were 2 to 3 times more likely to have high PTS symptom levels, than those without these exposures. Respondents' perceptions of SARS-related risks were significantly positively associated with PTS symptom levels and partially mediated the effects of exposure. Altruistic acceptance of work-related risks was negatively related to PTS levels.

CONCLUSIONS:

The psychological impact of stressful events related to an infectious disease outbreak may be mediated by peoples' perceptions of those events; altruism may help to protect some health care workers against these negative impacts.

PMID:
19497162
PMCID:
PMC3780353
DOI:
10.1177/070674370905400504
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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