Background: In China, mental health of frontline medical staff might be influenced by clinicians’ ability to handle the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Few studies to-date have addressed the association between clinicians’ competencies and mental health in this context. This cross-sectional study has examined the prevalence of mental health symptoms among frontline medical staff handling the COVID-19 outbreak, and explored the associations between their competencies, and separate and concurrent depressive and anxiety symptoms.
Methods: A total of 623 frontline medical staff were included in this study, which took place from January 20, 2020 to February 20, 2020. Competencies, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms were assessed using the short form of the Chinese clinical physicians’ competency model, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 questionnaire, respectively. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the associations between one standard deviation increase in competency scores and the prevalence of mental health problems. Multivariate-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.
Results: Among 623 staff members, the prevalence of depressive, anxiety, and comorbid depressive and anxiety symptoms was 40.93%, 31.78%, and 26.00%, respectively. Among the medical staff with higher total competency scores, the prevalence of depressive (OR=0.67, 95% CI: 0.55-0.81), anxiety (OR=0.68, 95% CI: 0.56-0.83), and comorbid anxiety and depressive symptoms (OR=0.69, 95% CI: 0.55-0.83) was lower than among their lower-scoring counterparts. Subgroup analyses stratified by core competency scores revealed similar associations as the main analyses.
Conclusions: The present findings highlight the association between high core competency scores and lower prevalence of depressive, anxiety, and comorbid anxiety and depressive symptoms. Improving medical staff’s core competencies might help prevent mental health problems among frontline medical staff responding to COVID-19.