Abstract: Prevalence and Associates of PTSD and Depressive Symptoms One Year after the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Epidemic in Chinese Social Workers (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

430P Prevalence and Associates of PTSD and Depressive Symptoms One Year after the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Epidemic in Chinese Social Workers

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Xiang Gao, Associate Professor, Huazhong university of science and technology, Wuhan, China
Ning Tang, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Saint Joseph, Macau, China
Charles Leung, PHD, Assistant Professor, Beijing Normal University – Hong Kong Baptist University United International College (Zhuhai)
Fei Sun, PhD, Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Background and Purpose: During the rampaging COVID-19, Chinese social workers stood at the front line with other health professionals. They, more than other professionals, are most hurt by COVID-19 given the pandemic’s pernicious impact on society's vulnerable populations they serve. They are also fiercely challenged by the pandemic given the restraints associated with a young and underdeveloped profession status. This study explored the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms in a sample of social workers in mainland China.

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.