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COVID-19 Frontline Psychological Support

Study title: Investigating the prevalence and determinants of psychological distress symptoms in Irish and Italian frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.


What is the purpose of this study?

The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of frontline healthcare workers’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study intends to recruit healthcare workers from Ireland and Italy to examine the proportion of healthcare workers with symptoms of psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress. This study also aims to assess which types of healthcare workers (e.g. doctors, nurses, paramedics) are at the highest risk of reporting symptoms of psychological distress. We also want to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the personal and professional lives of healthcare workers, and what types of support services healthcare workers would prefer to reduce any feelings of distress.


Who is running the project?

Brian McGuire, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, and a team of researchers in the School of Psychology in NUI Galway are running this project.


Why have I been chosen?

You have been chosen because you were employed in a healthcare setting during the COVID-19 pandemic and came into repeated contact with COVID-19 patients, and you have responded to an invitation delivered by our research team.


What will happen if I volunteer?

Your participation is entirely voluntary. You are under no obligation to take part in this study, and if you initially decide to take part but change your mind during the questionnaires, you can exit the study at any stage.


If you agree to participate, you will first be asked to fill out questionnaires examining your family, employment, and housing information, and whether these factors changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You will then be asked to fill out questionnaires examining your mental health – these questionnaires assess a number of symptoms typically experienced by people who have been exposed to prolonged stress, including anxiety, depression, and insomnia.


Prior to beginning the survey questionnaire, you will be asked to read and fill out a consent form for the information you provide to be used in this research study. It is estimated that it will take a maximum of 10 minutes to fully complete the survey questionnaire.


Are there any benefits from my participation?

You may or may not benefit directly from taking part in this study. However, the information you share will be used to develop guidelines for helping healthcare workers with symptoms of psychological distress in the current pandemic, and future public health emergencies.


Are there any risks involved in participating?

There are no direct risks involved in participating. However, filling out questionnaires about your mental health may induce feelings of distress. If you do become distressed as a consequence of filling out the questionnaire, we have provided contact information for psychological support services in Ireland and Italy. 


What happens if I do not agree to participate?

Nothing will happen to you if you do not agree to participate


Will my information be confidential?

Your identity will remain completely confidential.  A study number will identify you and as such your name will not be connected with any information you provide.   Your name will not be published or disclosed to anyone.  Should you wish to withdraw from the study for any reason, your survey questionnaire will not be used. Your anonymous data will be used and may be published in an academic journal. Only anonymous data will be used for any publication or report.


Who is funding the project?

This project is funded by the COVID-19 Pandemic Rapid Response Funding Opportunity 2020 HRB-IRC Scheme.


Who can I contact with any queries about the study?

If you have any questions about any aspect of the study, you can contact the core research team at info@flowsproject.eu.


Irish psychological support services contact details    

Samaritans helpline: 116 123

Samaritans email: jo@samaritans.ie

Information on HSE Employee Assistance Programme can be found at: https://www.hse.ie/eng/staff/workplace-health-and-wellbeing-unit/employee-assistance-and-counselling-service/



Principal Investigator Contact Details

Professor Brian McGuire

Email: brian.mcguire@nuigalway.ie.

Phone: 091 493266

Postal Address: Professor McGuire, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, University Road, Galway.