Results from FLoWS Research

Quantitative study 

Our online survey ran from September 2020 to February 2021, through multiple waves of the pandemic. Recruitment took place via email, social media posts and advertising (Facebook & Instagram) and  through online healthcare networks.  

Frontline  healthcare workers were defined as anyone working in healthcare settings with contact with  confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19​, including staff not directly giving care who still have patient contact – e.g., porters, catering staff, cleaners, technicians etc. 


  • Over 2,200 fully completed online surveys across both countries​ 
  • Participants were 91.1% female and 8.8% male, reflective of the gender breakdown in this group 
  • Nearly 60% of participants were aged between 31 and 50 with the 41-50 age range being the most common (31.6%) 
  • 67.5% of participants were married or cohabiting 
  • The  sample primarily consists of nurses (45.9%) and other healthcare professionals (28.03%), such as  paramedics, physiotherapists, and speech and language  therapists​ 
  • 34.5% of participants had been reassigned from their usual roles during COVID-19  


We measured multiple indicators of psychological distress – anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, adjustment disorder, and moral injury. We also measured post-traumatic growth.  

  • In all of the measures used, a large proportion of participants responses reported elevated symptoms 
  • More than a third of participants reported high anxiety, and approximately 42% reported elevated symptoms of depression 
  • A large number of participants showed signs of experiencing adjustment disorder (42.3%) and moral injury (41.9%) 
  • One in four FLWs assessed met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD  
  • A third of participants met criteria for clinical insomnia  
  • Prevalence of elevated symptoms was higher in the Irish sample across all symptoms, except for insomnia which was higher in the Italian cohort 
  • Prevalence of all symptoms was higher in women than in men 
  • Younger participants were more likely to experience symptoms across all scales with the 18-25 group most affected 
  • Those who received pre-covid training were less likely to experience severe symptoms than those who did not receive training 
  • Post-traumatic growth was also observed in more than a third of participants, indicating that people are also experiencing positive changes in themselves, their relationships, and their general outlook on the world. 


We are currently writing up our methods and our findings in more detail for publication, and will share the link to that here once published. In the meantime, please direct any questions to and our research team will get back to you.