Methods: This study used a cross-sectional online survey design that collected data between December 2020 and March 2021. The target population of this study was those who self-identified as social workers and participated in prevention or intervention work in response to the pandemic. Non-probability sampling methods were used to recruit participants. A total of 294 social workers completed the online survey. About 73% of participants were female; the average age was 32; 24% were licensed social workers; 60% worked in social work agencies; 44% worked in the frontline during the pandemic. PTSD was assessed with the 22-item Impact of Event Scale—Revised (IES-R); depressive symptoms were assessed with the 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CESD).
Results: About 30% participants reported probable PTSD (> 33 points) and 20% had probable depression (> 16 points) one year after the outburst of COVID-19 in mainland China. Job-related tension and exposure to patients with COVID-19 during the pandemic were two significant risk factors for PTSD and depressive symptoms of Chinese social workers, when controlling age, gender, education levels, marital status, working years in social service, training hours during the pandemic, and attitudes toward pandemic work.
Conclusions and Implications: The mental health conditions of Chinese social workers participating in fighting COVID-19 are worth concerns. Psychosocial interventions are in need to assist social workers with prior contact with patients with COVID-19 and those with job-related tension during the pandemic. Policy advocacy to improve resource allocations for social service agencies that hire social workers is also needed.