Associations between the working experiences at frontline of COVID-19 pandemic and mental health of Korean public health doctors

Sangyoon Han, Sejin Choi, Seung Hyun Cho, Joonhyuk Lee, Je Yeon Yun

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Background: Demographic, work environmental, and psychosocial features are associated with mental health of healthcare professionals at pandemic frontline. The current study aimed to find predictors of mental health for public health doctors from working experiences at frontline of COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: With first-come and first-served manner, 350 public health doctors with experiences of work at COVID-19 frontline participated online survey on August 2020. Mental health was defined using the total scores of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, the Perceived Stress Scale, and the Stanford Presenteeism Scale-6. Multivariate logistic regression models of mental health with lowest Akaike Information Criterion were determined among all combinations of working environments, perceived threats and satisfaction at frontline, and demographics that were significant (P < 0.05) in the univariate logistic regression. Results: Perceived distress, lowered self-efficacy at work, anxiety, and depressive mood were reported by 45.7, 34.6, 11.4, and 15.1% of respondents, respectively. Predictors of poor mental health found in the multivariate logistic regression analyses were environmental (insufficient personal protective equipment, workplace of screening center, prolonged workhours) and psychosocial (fear of infection and death, social stigma and rejection) aspects of working experiences at frontline. Satisfaction of monetary compensation and proactive coping (acceptance and willingness to volunteer at frontline) were predictive of better mental health. Conclusions: Sufficient supply of personal protective equipment and training on infection prevention at frontline, proper workhours and satisfactory monetary compensation, and psychological supports are required for better mental health of public health doctors at frontline of COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number298
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Health personnel
  • Mental health


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