Anxiety and sleep disturbances among health care workers during the covid-19 pandemic in India: Cross-sectional online survey

Bhawna Gupta, Vyom Sharma, Narinder Kumar, Akanksha Mahajan

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Background: The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has become a serious concern among the global medical community and has resulted in an unprecedented psychological impact on health care workers, who were already working under stressful conditions. Objective: In this study, we aimed to evaluate and measure the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the anxiety levels and sleep quality among health care workers in India, as well as to determine how the unavailability of personal protective equipment affects their willingness to provide patient-related care. Methods: We conducted an online cross-sectional study using piloted, structured questionnaires with self-reported responses from 368 volunteer male and female health care workers in India. Study participants were identified through social networking platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. The survey evaluated the participants' degree of signs and symptoms of anxiety and sleep quality based on the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) scale and single-item Sleep Quality Scale, respectively. Information on the availability of personal protective equipment was collected based on responses to relevant survey questions. Results: The majority of health care workers (126/368, 34.2%) were in the age group 45-60 years, and 52.2% (192/368) were doctors. Severe anxiety (ie, GAD-7 score >10) was observed among 7.3% (27/368) health care workers, whereas moderate, mild, and minimal anxiety was observed among 12.5% (46/368), 29.3% (108/368), and 50.8% (187/368) health care workers, respectively. Moreover, 31.5% (116/368) of the health care workers had poor-to-fair sleep quality (ie, scores <6). Univariate analysis showed female gender and inadequate availability of personal protective equipment was significantly associated with higher anxiety levels (P=.01 for both). Sleep disturbance was significantly associated with age <30 years (P=.04) and inadequate personal protective equipment (P<.001). Multivariable analysis showed that poorer quality of sleep was associated with higher anxiety levels (P<.001). Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has potentially caused significant levels of anxiety and sleep disturbances among health care workers, particularly associated with the female gender, younger age group, and inadequate availability of personal protective equipment. These factors put health care workers at constant risk of contracting the infection themselves or transmitting it to their families. Early identification of at-risk health care workers and implementation of situation-tailored mitigation measures could help alleviate the risk of long-term, serious psychological sequelae as well as reduce current anxiety levels among health care workers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24206
JournalJMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • GAD-7
  • Health care worker
  • Mental health
  • Occupational epidemiology
  • Online survey
  • Pandemic
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Sleep
  • Sleep quality


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