Special Issue "Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 April 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Emanuele Cannizzaro
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Guest Editor
Department of Health Promotion Sciences Maternal and Infantile Care, Internal Medicine and Medical Specialities “Giuseppe D’Alessandro”, University of Palermo, via del Vespro 133, 90127 Palermo, Italy
Interests: occupational medicine; toxicology; work-related stress; swift work
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Ramaci Tiziana
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Guest Editor
Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Enna “Kore,” via Cittadella Universitaria sn, Enna 94100, Italy
Interests: Public Health Education and Promotion, particularly with regard to organizational wellbeing, risk perception and job insecurity; vocational guidance, and international careers
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Dr. Massimiliano Barattucci
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Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology, e-Campus University, Novedrate (CO) 22060, Italy
Interests: risk perception and work stress; leadership; climate and outcomes; selection procedures and recruitment
Dr. Fulvio Plescia
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Guest Editor
Department of Health Promotion Sciences Maternal and Infantile Care, Internal Medicine and Medical Specialities “Giuseppe D’Alessandro”, University of Palermo, via del Vespro 133, 90127 Palermo, Italy
Interests: pharmacology and toxicology; addiction; alcohol abuse; stress
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world health organization declared coronavirus disease 2019 a pandemic on March 11th, pointing to the over 118,000 cases in over 110 countries around the world. During this pandemic related to the spread of coronavirus, it became necessary to understand the protective factors, risk factors, stressors, and psychological and health conditions, associated with an unprecedented emergency, expecially on those workers on duty during the lockdown.

This research topic wants to understand which variables are considered most important to investigate, how research on the phenomenon is implemented, and the differences in studies between different countries, on the emergency covid-19, with the aim of assessing how researchers are acting to study psycho-social phenomena related to the coronavirus emergency, as well as effective preventive measures and public health management response and containment interventions.

Since many researchers around the world are using their efforts to contribute to the study of the phenomenon, this research topic aims to highlight interdisciplinary research approaches deployed during the covid-19 epidemic from across the world.

It will incorporate critical, theoretically informed, and empirically researched contributions using diverse approaches; experimental, observational, and intervention studies; and conceptual framing.

Dr. Emanuele Cannizzaro
Prof. Ramaci Tiziana
Dr. Massimiliano Barattucci
Dr. Fulvio Plescia
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • SARS-COV2
  • COVID-19
  • coronavirus
  • workers
  • psychological factor
  • stress
  • stigma
  • communication
  • risk
  • social media
  • infection prevention
  • protection
  • job shift
  • epidemiology and public health

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Hardiness, Stress and Secondary Trauma in Italian Healthcare and Emergency Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5592; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145592 (registering DOI) - 11 Jul 2020
Abstract
Emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic can lead healthcare and emergency workers to undergo severe stress reactions that increase the risk of developing secondary trauma. Hardiness is a protective factor that reduces the likelihood of negative outcomes such as secondary trauma. In [...] Read more.
Emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic can lead healthcare and emergency workers to undergo severe stress reactions that increase the risk of developing secondary trauma. Hardiness is a protective factor that reduces the likelihood of negative outcomes such as secondary trauma. In this study, we analyzed the responses to physical, emotional, cognitive, organizational‒relational and COVID-19 stress of 140 healthcare and 96 emergency workers. Decision-making difficulties due to high uncertainty and the fear of contracting the virus and infecting others were also considered. We aimed to detect which stressors caused secondary trauma and to assess the protective power of hardiness. Participants completed the questionnaire online measuring stress, secondary trauma and resilience. We performed a t-test, correlational analysis and hierarchical regression. The healthcare workers had higher levels of stress and arousal than the emergency workers group and those involved in the treatment of COVID-19 were exposed to a large degree of stress and were at high risk of developing secondary trauma. Commitment is associated with high levels of stress, arousal and intrusion, while control shows a protective function. Stress and hardiness result in 37% and 17% of the variance of arousal and intrusion, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Population-Based Study of the Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Hand Hygiene Behaviors—Polish Adolescents’ COVID-19 Experience (PLACE-19) Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4930; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124930 - 17 Jun 2020
Abstract
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization and other major authorities recommend frequent hand washing and applying proper hand hygiene procedures as one of the cheapest, easiest, and most important ways to prevent the spread of a virus. For adolescents it [...] Read more.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization and other major authorities recommend frequent hand washing and applying proper hand hygiene procedures as one of the cheapest, easiest, and most important ways to prevent the spread of a virus. For adolescents it is especially important as it should become for them a lifelong habit. The aim of the study was to assess the hand hygiene behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic in a national Polish sample of secondary school adolescents and to verify the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on those behaviors. The study was conducted in April 2020 in a national sample of 2323 secondary school students recruited based on secondary school sampling procedure (random quota sampling with quotas for voivodeships). The hand hygiene behaviors that were assessed included: frequency of washing hands, reasons for not washing hands, circumstances of washing hands, and procedure of handwashing. Participants were asked each question twice—for the current period of the COVID-19 pandemic and for the period before the COVID-19 issue. The declared frequency of washing hands during the COVID-19 pandemic was significantly higher than before (p < 0.0001), as the majority of respondents declared doing it 6–15 times a day (58.4%) while before the pandemic, it was 3–10 times a day (68.1%). The share of respondents declaring washing their hands always while it would be needed was significantly higher for the period during the COVID-19 pandemic (54.8%) than it was for the period before (35.6%; p < 0.0001), and there was a lower share of respondents declaring various reasons for not washing hands. For the majority of circumstances of washing hands, including those associated with meals, personal hygiene, leaving home, socializing, health, and household chores, the share of respondents declaring always washing their hands was significantly higher for the period during the COVID-19 pandemic than for the period before (p < 0.0001). For the majority of steps of handwashing procedure, the share of respondents declaring including them always was significantly higher for the period during the COVID-19 pandemic than for the period before (p < 0.0001), but a higher share declared not wearing a watch and bracelet (p = 0.0006), and rings (p = 0.0129). It was concluded that during the COVID-19 pandemic all the assessed hand hygiene behaviors of Polish adolescents were improved, compared with those before, but hand hygiene education is still necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Open AccessArticle
Can Information about Pandemics Increase Negative Attitudes toward Foreign Groups? A Case of COVID-19 Outbreak
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4912; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124912 - 16 Jun 2020
Abstract
Pathogen threat can translate into a willingness to distance oneself from others on a psychological level. Building on this notion, we predicted that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic can affect attitudes toward foreign nationalities. We explored the intergroup consequences of the current epidemiological situation [...] Read more.
Pathogen threat can translate into a willingness to distance oneself from others on a psychological level. Building on this notion, we predicted that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic can affect attitudes toward foreign nationalities. We explored the intergroup consequences of the current epidemiological situation in two studies involving a total of 652 participants. In correlational Study 1, we showed a positive relationship between media exposure in the United Kingdom (UK) and in Poland, and prejudice to four foreign nationalities. Study 2 showed that negative affect toward Italians (i.e., a nation struggling with the most severe COVID-19 outbreak at the time of the study) was indirectly predicted by exposure to news about coronavirus through the increase in anxiety, but this effect was not observed when a generalized measure of prejudice was considered. Overall, our studies revealed that prejudice and anxiety are sensitive to the current epidemiological situation, and our findings suggest that the outbreak of COVID-19 may translate into severe social consequences and increased psychological distancing to nations most affected by the pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Open AccessArticle
Preventing Internal COVID-19 Outbreaks within Businesses and Institutions: A Methodology Based on Social Networks Analysis for Supporting Occupational Health and Safety Services Decision Making
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4655; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114655 - 06 Jun 2020
Abstract
This study aims at developing and demonstrating in a real case study a methodology for supporting Occupational Health and Safety Services in the design and assessment of preventive measures to reduce the risks of COVID-19 outbreaks within their entities. The proposed methodology applies [...] Read more.
This study aims at developing and demonstrating in a real case study a methodology for supporting Occupational Health and Safety Services in the design and assessment of preventive measures to reduce the risks of COVID-19 outbreaks within their entities. The proposed methodology applies the concepts from Social Network Analysis (SNA) to the current challenge of preventing risks of contagion of viruses like SARS-COV-2 among employees. For this purpose, the authors consider a network of employees whose interaction is caused by triggers, which are defined as common circumstances between two workers that may result in contagion, like sharing an office or participating in the same management board. The network cohesion is then evaluated, and those core nodes, which are the most significant contributors to its integration, are identified to be addressed in the design of the preventive measures. The impact of the designed preventive measures on the networks’ cohesion is assessed for its prioritization and further deployment. The methodology has been demonstrated in a real case, a Spanish Research Center, providing promising results in a quick and easy manner. The objective insights provided by its application were demonstrated as very valuable for the Occupational Health and Safety Services in the design and evaluation of the set of preventing measures to be implemented before the return of the employees to the facilities after the Spanish confinement period. The current COVID-19 outbreak brings the need to develop tools and methods to support businesses and institutions in the use of SNA for preventing outbreaks among their employees. Although some literature does exist in the field of SNA application in epidemiology, its adaptation for extensive use by the Occupational and Health Services is still a challenge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Open AccessCommunication
Social Stigma during COVID-19 and its Impact on HCWs Outcomes
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3834; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093834 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The COVID-19 emergency has significantly transformed the working environment and job demands. Providing care was emotionally difficult for healthcare workers. Uncertainty, stigmatisation, and potentially exposing their families to infection were prominent themes for healthcare workers (HCWs) during the crisis, which first broke out [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 emergency has significantly transformed the working environment and job demands. Providing care was emotionally difficult for healthcare workers. Uncertainty, stigmatisation, and potentially exposing their families to infection were prominent themes for healthcare workers (HCWs) during the crisis, which first broke out in China at the end of 2019, and then in Italy in early 2020. This study examined the effects of stigma, job demands, and self-esteem, and the consequences of working as a “frontline care provider” with patients infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19). A correlational design study involved 260 healthcare workers (HCWs) working in a large hospital in southern Italy. The following questionnaires were administered: (1) the Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ), for assessing psychological and physical demands; (2) the Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL) to measure the quality individuals feel in relation to their work as “frontline care providers”, through three dimensions: compassion fatigue (CF), burnout (BO), and compassion satisfaction (CS); (3) the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, for evaluating individual self-esteem; (4) a self-administered multiple-choice questionnaire developed by See et al. about attitudes of discrimination, acceptance, and fear towards HCWs exposed to COVID-19. The findings suggest that stigma has a high impact on workers’ outcomes. Stigma may influence worker compliance and can guide management communication strategies relating to pandemic risk for HCWs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Open AccessProject Report
Psychological Care of Health Workers during the COVID-19 Outbreak in Italy: Preliminary Report of an Occupational Health Department (AOUP) Responsible for Monitoring Hospital Staff Condition
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5039; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125039 - 19 Jun 2020
Abstract
The recent worldwide COVID-19 outbreak provided a timely demonstration of the mental health needs of health care workers on the front lines of the response to the pandemic. In addition to international guidelines, local institutions demand rapid and practical approaches easily replicable in [...] Read more.
The recent worldwide COVID-19 outbreak provided a timely demonstration of the mental health needs of health care workers on the front lines of the response to the pandemic. In addition to international guidelines, local institutions demand rapid and practical approaches easily replicable in different populations and contests. The principal aim of this paper is to highlight and share the experience of an Occupational Health Department responsible for monitoring hospital staff conditions during the SARS-COV-2 pandemic phase 1. The multidisciplinary team of the Occupational Health Department of a major university hospital in central Italy (AOUP) developed a specific protocol called PsicoCovid19 in order to provide targeted help, based on new psychosocial risk factors, to workers involved in the COVID-19 emergency to preserve hospital staff health. As of the date of this report, 106 workers (79 female, 27 male, mean age respectively, 51 ± 9.8, 45.7± 10.1) requested this service, reporting mild to moderate subjective distress. Approximately 81% of all the participants were already monitored before the outbreak of the pandemic. Among the total sample, 60% received a remodeling of a previous therapeutic program. Meanwhile, 7% passed from a psychiatric therapy to a combination therapy with the addition of a psychological treatment. The results demonstrate that those who asked for help were primarily female nurses who already presented with mental health vulnerabilities. A more gender-specific, clinical approach is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Open AccessCase Report
A Mental Health First Aid Service in an Italian University Public Hospital during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4244; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104244 - 21 May 2020
Abstract
The recent outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been extremely stressful and has produced fear and anxiety throughout the population, representing a psychological emergency. This work aimed at presenting a mental health first aid service established within an Italian university public hospital [...] Read more.
The recent outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been extremely stressful and has produced fear and anxiety throughout the population, representing a psychological emergency. This work aimed at presenting a mental health first aid service established within an Italian university public hospital context to address four different population targets (i.e., people vulnerable to mental health problems, health-care professionals, people in isolation, and general citizenship). Specifically, the organizational structure comprising four different areas (i.e., management, clinical, communication, and research) and first data collected from the foundation of the service until 3 May 2020 are presented. Findings indicated that anxiety and fear of contagion were the main motivations prompting both the general population and health-care professionals to ask for a psychological help. Furthermore, findings indicate that clients’ current quality of life was perceived as lower than in the past but also that imagined in the future, highlighting the importance of psychological first aid interventions. This service may represent an example for helping mental health professionals in developing similar services in their local realities, promoting health and individual and community resilience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Open AccessProtocol
COVID-19 Pandemic: Prevention and Protection Measures to Be Adopted at the Workplace
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3603; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093603 - 29 Apr 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
SARS-CoV-2, identified in Wuhan, China, for the first time in December 2019, is a new viral strain, which has not been previously identified in humans; it can be transmitted both by air and via direct and indirect contact; however, the most frequent way [...] Read more.
SARS-CoV-2, identified in Wuhan, China, for the first time in December 2019, is a new viral strain, which has not been previously identified in humans; it can be transmitted both by air and via direct and indirect contact; however, the most frequent way it spreads is via droplets. Like the other viruses belonging to the same family of coronaviruses, it can cause from mild flu-like symptoms, such as cold, sore throat, cough and fever, to more severe ones such as pneumonia and breathing difficulties, and it can even lead to death. Since no effective specific drug therapy has been found yet, nor any vaccine capable of limiting the spread of this pathogen, it is important for ways of preventing the spread of this infection to be established. The purpose of our research was to provide a protocol to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection in light of the limited information related to this coronavirus. In detail, we analysed and searched targeted evidence-based guidelines issued in the various countries affected by this epidemic up till now. In addition, we analyzed the recommendations for the prevention and control of other epidemics caused by other pathogens belonging to the same family of coronaviruses or others that present the same mechanisms of transmission. General organizational measures regarding the containment and management of the epidemiological emergency of COVID-19 have been imposed by the competent authorities for an adequate and proportionate management of the evolution of the epidemiological situation. The prevention and protection organizational measures therefore aim to minimize the probability of being exposed to SARS-CoV-2. For this purpose, measures must also be taken at work to avoid new infections or even the spread of the virus where it has already been present. Furthermore, environmental measures are aimed at reducing the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to individuals through contact with infected subjects, objects, equipment, or contaminated environmental surfaces. Protective devices must be used whenever there is potentially close contact with a suspect case, especially when the potentially infected person does not wear a surgical mask that could reduce the spread of viruses in the environment. By adopting this specific prevention and protection measures recommended in the workplace, it will be possible to help overcome this COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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