Background High levels of mental health problems have been consistently reported among neonatal healthcare professionals. While studies suggest that personality, coping strategies and safety culture might contribute to the psychological wellbeing of healthcare professionals, they have not been systematically investigated in low-risk (i.e., neonatal wards; NWs) and high-risk (i.e., neonatal intensive care units; NICUs) neonatal contexts. The current study investigated potential predictors of professionals' emotional distress and whether they differ according to the work setting (i.e., NICUs vs. NWs). Methods Healthcare professionals ( N = 314) from 7 level-3 (i.e., NICUs) and 6 level-2 (i.e., NWs) neonatal units in Tuscany were included. Emotional distress (i.e., anxiety, depression, psychosomatic, post-traumatic stress symptoms and emotional exhaustion), Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) and Behavioral Approach System (BAS) sensitivity, coping strategies and safety culture were assessed through well-validated, self-reported questionnaires. Results Greater BIS/BAS sensitivity, avoidance coping strategies and a sub-dimension of safety culture (i.e., stress recognition) were significantly associated with greater risk of emotional distress, whereas job satisfaction emerged as a protective factor. Three specific profiles of professionals in term of personality, coping and safety culture were identified and further predicted emotional distress. Neonatal wards and NICUs personnel presented different associations between personality, coping and safety culture. Conclusion These findings highlighted significant modifiable contributors of neonatal mental healthcare professionals' wellbeing. Institutional initiatives that target these factors and, particularly, job satisfaction may promote professionals' emotional wellbeing and thus improve caring processes.
Background The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected healthcare professionals’ lives. We investigated the potential mental health risk faced by healthcare professionals working in neonatal units in a multicentre cross-sectional observational study. Methods We included all healthcare personnel of seven level-3 and six level-2 neonatal units in Tuscany, Italy. We measured the level of physical exposure to COVID-19 risk, self-reported pandemic-related stress, and mental health load outcomes (anxiety, depression, burnout, psychosomatic symptoms, and post-traumatic symptoms) using validated, self-administered, online questionnaires during the second pandemic wave in Italy (October 2020 to March 2021). Results We analyzed 314 complete answers. Scores above the clinical cutoff were reported by 91% of participants for symptoms of anxiety, 29% for post-traumatic symptoms, 13% for burnout, and 3% for symptoms of depression. Moreover, 50% of the participants reported at least one psychosomatic symptom. Pandemic-related stress was significantly associated with all the measured mental health load outcomes, with an Odds Ratio of 3.31 (95% confidence interval: 1.87, 5.88) for clinically relevant anxiety, 2.46 (1.73, 3.49) for post-traumatic symptoms, 1.80 (1.17, 2.79) for emotional exhaustion, and 2.75 (1.05, 7.19) for depression. Female health care professionals displayed a greater risk of anxiety, and male health care professionals and nurses, of depressive symptoms. Conclusions Despite the low direct clinical impact of COVID-19 in newborns, neonatal professionals, due to both living in a situation of uncertainty and personal exposure to contacts with parents and other relatives of the newborns, and having to carry out activities once routine and now fraught with uncertainty, displayed clear signs of mental health load outcomes. They must be considered a specific population at risk for psychological consequences during the pandemic.