These two studies—IMPROVE II and Early Signs—are investigating the impacts of shift/emergency care work and the COVID-19 pandemic on staff psychological and physical health. They are focusing on the following areas: 

In the current studies, we are investigating the following areas:

  • Examining the prevalence and predictors of sustained psychological symptoms (e.g., COVID-related PTSD, COVID-related fear, and insomnia) in ED HCWs who provided care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Characterizing the relationship of psychological symptoms to three-year progression of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk
  • Examining a potential protective factor (i.e., resilient coping) in the development of COVID-related psychological symptoms

To achieve these aims, we are conducting a prospective three-year study of psychological and cardiovascular health in ED HCWs exposed to some of the highest COVID case rates in the world. Our findings will help us to better understand the scope of the problem and to inform efforts to protect the mental and physical well-being of frontline HCWs as we navigate this and future public health crises.  

Participants are asked to complete an online questionnaire that captures demographic information, health behavior, social factors, and coronavirus experience. During an in-person assessment, a phlebotomy-trained professional obtains a blood and hair sample, and measures body weight, height, and blood pressure. Additionally, participants are also asked to complete a neurocognitive test as well as other surveys (one is video recorded).

Throughout the study period, objective measures of ED stressors are continuously assessed through access to ED electronic records, including overcrowding, surge periods, patient acuity, and patient deaths. We are also accessing participants’ current work schedule, and schedule during the COVID-19 period (March 2020 to study enrollment) so this data can be linked to ED environment characteristics to determine participant exposure to ED factors and shift schedules.