A pre/post analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the psychosocial work environment and recovery among healthcare workers in a large university hospital in Sweden

Ingibjörg H. Jonsdottir
Region Västra Götaland, Institute of Stress Medicine, Gothenburg; School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Alessio Degl’Innocenti
Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health (CELAM), Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg; Region Västra Götaland, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothia Forum for Clinical Trials, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Linda Ahlstrom
Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg; Region Västra Götaland, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Department of Orthopaedics, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Caterina Finizia
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg; Region Västra Götaland, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Department of Research, Development, Education and Innovation, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg , Sweden.

Helle Wijk
Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Magnus Åkerström
Region Västra Götaland, Institute of Stress Medicine, Gothenburg; School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


Background. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workload, mental health, and well-being of healthcare workers, and particularly those on the front-line, has received considerable attention.

Design and methods. We surveyed hospital employees about their working environment during the pandemic and identified departments which were negatively affected in comparison to the pre-pandemic situation, as well as factors contributing to this.
Setting and participants We surveyed all hospital employees at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden in September 2020 and compared results across departments and to the results of a large employee survey from October 2019.

ResultsThe overall impact of the pandemic on perceived working conditions and possibility for recovery differed among departments. During the pandemic, healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients reported poorer working environments than other employees. Factors significantly related to perception of work environment and recovery during the pandemic included worries of being infected, departmental transfer, and having insufficient access to personal protective equipment. Men reported better working conditions than women in all, but one item and higher age was related to better perceived working environment.

ConclusionsOur results indicate that the pandemic differentially affects hospital departments and underscores the multifactorial nature of this topic. Contributing factors to poor perceived working environment could be addressed at times of high workload, such as during the pandemic, including providing appropriate support to managers, ensuring possibility for recovery during working hours, and acknowledging worries about infection. Young healthcare workers and staff who are relocated due to the pandemic warrant special attention.


Helle Wijk, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg

Region Västra Götaland, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Department of Quality strategies, Gothenburg; Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden


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