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: 1 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Emanuele Cannizzaro
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Health Promotion Sciences Maternal and Infantile Care, Internal Medicine and Medical Specialities “Giuseppe D’Alessandro”, University of Palermo, 90127 Palermo, Italy
Interests: occupational medicine; toxicology; work-related stress; swift work
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Tiziana Ramaci
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Enna “Kore,” 94100 Enna, Italy
Interests: health; safety; organizational wellbeing; stress; compliance; risk perception; HCWs; careers
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Massimiliano Barattucci
E-Mail Website
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
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Fulvio Plescia
E-Mail Website
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

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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 1900 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 (23 papers)

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Article
Common Factors of Stress Change under the First COVID-19 Outbreak as Observed in Four Global Cities
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5996; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115996 - 26 May 2021
Viewed by 554
Abstract
Research focusing on stress change comparing before and after being affected by the first COVID-19 outbreak is still limited. This study examined the model between the stress changes during the first COVID-19 outbreak and social attributes (age, sex, occupation, etc.) among residents of [...] Read more.
Research focusing on stress change comparing before and after being affected by the first COVID-19 outbreak is still limited. This study examined the model between the stress changes during the first COVID-19 outbreak and social attributes (age, sex, occupation, etc.) among residents of four cities around the globe. We obtained 741 valid responses from the residents of London (11.5%), New York (13.8%), Amsterdam (11.7%), and Tokyo (53.4%), through a web-based questionnaire survey conducted in collaboration with a private research firm. We identified 16 statistically significant variables out of 36 explanatory variables, which explained a significant stress change compared to the pre-outbreak period. This result showed that whether living alone or not and the number of times going out for walk or jogging during the first COVID-19 outbreak were the explanatory variables with higher significance for the reduced stress. In addition, those who lived in a place different from their hometowns, who were dissatisfied with their work or their family relationships were more stressed, with statistically significant differences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
The COVID-19 Outbreak and Psychological Distress in Healthcare Workers: The Role of Personality Traits, Attachment Styles, and Sociodemographic Factors
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4992; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094992 - 29 Apr 2021
Viewed by 440
Abstract
The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed healthcare professionals (HPs) to increased workloads and a high risk of contagion. The present study aimed at examining the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the mental health of HPs in Italy, investigating the role of attachment style, [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed healthcare professionals (HPs) to increased workloads and a high risk of contagion. The present study aimed at examining the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the mental health of HPs in Italy, investigating the role of attachment style, personality traits, and sociodemographic variables. An online survey was administered from 18 to 22 March 2020. Respondents were 296 HPs (77% female, 23% male; aged 21–77 years). The measures employed were a sociodemographic questionnaire, the Personality Inventory for DSM-5-BF (PID-5-BF), the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ), and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale–21 (DASS-21). The findings showed that PID-5-BF Negative Affect, female gender, and ASQ Preoccupation with Relationships predicted high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, respectively. Furthermore, PID-5-BF Detachment predicted higher psychological distress, as captured in the DASS-21 total score and DASS-21 Depression score, and having an infected loved one was associated with high psychological distress. Overall, the results suggest that HPs are experiencing high rates of psychological distress during the pandemic, and that specific attachment styles and personality traits might be useful in identifying those at greatest risk for developing mental health symptoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
Article
Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Classrooms: A Case Study on Foreigners in South Korea Using Applied Machine Learning
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4986; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094986 - 29 Apr 2021
Viewed by 493
Abstract
In this study, we qualitatively and quantitatively examine the effects of COVID-19 on classrooms, students, and educators. Using a new Twitter dataset specific to South Korea during the pandemic, we sample the sentiment and strain on students and educators using applied machine learning [...] Read more.
In this study, we qualitatively and quantitatively examine the effects of COVID-19 on classrooms, students, and educators. Using a new Twitter dataset specific to South Korea during the pandemic, we sample the sentiment and strain on students and educators using applied machine learning techniques in order to identify various topical pain points emerging during the pandemic. Our contributions include a novel and open source geo-fenced dataset on student and educator opinion within South Korea that we are making available to other researchers as well. We also identify trends in sentiment and polarity over the pandemic timeline, as well as key drivers behind the sentiments. Moreover, we provide a comparative analysis of two widely used pre-trained sentiment analysis approaches with TextBlob and VADER using statistical significance tests. Ultimately, we analyze how public opinion shifted on the pandemic in terms of positive sentiments about accessing course materials, online support communities, access to classes, and creativity, to negative sentiments about mental fatigue, job loss, student concerns, and overwhelmed institutions. We also initiate initial discussions about the concept of actionable sentiment analysis by overlapping polarity with the concept of trigger management to assist users in coping with negative emotions. We hope that insights from this preliminary study can promote further utilization of social media datasets to evaluate government messaging, population sentiment, and multi-dimensional analysis of pandemics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
Teaching during the Pandemic: A Comparison in Psychological Wellbeing among Smart Working Professions
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4850; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094850 - 26 Apr 2021
Viewed by 663
Abstract
Background: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, since March 2020, the Italian population was forced into lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. The restrictive measures imposed forced many organizations and workers to work through online platforms and no longer in-person. [...] Read more.
Background: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, since March 2020, the Italian population was forced into lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. The restrictive measures imposed forced many organizations and workers to work through online platforms and no longer in-person. Smart working, enjoyed by some workers for its flexibility, affected several professional categories. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether there are differences in the psychological variables related to four groups of professional categories (practitioners, managers, executive employees, teachers), particularly the teachers group. Methods: A total sample of 628 individuals was recruited through a random probability sample across Italy. Due to the lockdown, an online questionnaire was developed; several validated scales were chosen, and some ad hoc constructed items related to the smart working experience were included. Results: The results showed statistically significant differences between the four groups of examined smart workers. Conclusions: All workers have had to readjust to this new way of working, but our results show that teachers were the most affected, both in the perception of their psychological well-being and in the management of the smart working mode. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
Article
A Model of Stress Change under the First COVID-19 Pandemic among the General Public in Japanese Major Cities and Rural Areas
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1207; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031207 - 24 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 964
Abstract
Research on stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic has been dominated by the cases of healthcare workers, students, patients, and their stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study examined the relationship between the amount of stress change under the COVID-19 pandemic and demographic [...] Read more.
Research on stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic has been dominated by the cases of healthcare workers, students, patients, and their stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study examined the relationship between the amount of stress change under the COVID-19 pandemic and demographic factors (age, sex, occupation, etc.) in residents of a large city and a rural area of Japan. A total of 1331 valid responses were received in June 2020 from residents of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagano registered with a private research firm. We were able to identify 15 statistically significant variables out of 36 explanatory variables, which explained the significant increase in stress compared to the pre-pandemic period. Multiple-factor analysis showed that the relationship with people is a more significant explanatory variable for the level of increase in stress than the difference in environment between big cities (Tokyo, Osaka) and rural areas (Nagano), the type of housing, and the decrease in income compared to the pre-pandemic period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
The Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak on the Accommodation Selection of Azorean Tourists. A Study Based on the Assessment of the Azores Population’s Attitudes
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9990; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239990 - 29 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 914
Abstract
Tourists’ intentions show many changing dynamics, both in terms of destination and accommodation selection. These changes in dynamics are seasonal and significantly affected by trends. Therefore, after an infectious disease outbreak, as is the case with COVID-19 caused by a new coronavirus called [...] Read more.
Tourists’ intentions show many changing dynamics, both in terms of destination and accommodation selection. These changes in dynamics are seasonal and significantly affected by trends. Therefore, after an infectious disease outbreak, as is the case with COVID-19 caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, these dynamics change on an entirely different level and are so far unknown. Contextual research was conducted to define and analyze the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 on Azores residents’ tourism accommodations plans in 2020 by examining their intentions. The most frequent choice was to spend 2020 vacations at the vacation residences of family or friends (24.3%), followed by approximately 20% who chose three- to four-star hotels. A considerable increase in rural tourism accommodation selection intentions was noticed, obtaining the third position with 13.7%, followed by local accommodation (guest house) with 12.1% of the selection intentions. The study concludes that there are massive consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 crisis at the level of holiday choices and social isolation concerns for this ultra-peripheral territory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
Social Isolation and Stress as Predictors of Productivity Perception and Remote Work Satisfaction during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Concern about the Virus in a Moderated Double Mediation
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9804; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239804 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3389
Abstract
From mid-March to the end of May 2020, millions of Italians were forced to work from home because of the lockdown provisions imposed by the Italian government to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. As a result, many employees had to suddenly switch to remote [...] Read more.
From mid-March to the end of May 2020, millions of Italians were forced to work from home because of the lockdown provisions imposed by the Italian government to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. As a result, many employees had to suddenly switch to remote work, experiencing both troubles and opportunities. Social isolation from colleagues and the workplace represents a typical aspect of remote work which increased significantly during the social confinement imposed by the government. This study investigates the correlates of social isolation in terms of stress, perceived remote work productivity and remote work satisfaction, proposing the sequential mediation of stress and perceived remote work productivity, and the moderating role of concern about the new coronavirus. An online survey was conducted, and the responses of 265 employees showed the deleterious role of social isolation in stress, which leads to decreased perceived remote work productivity that, in turn, is related to remote work satisfaction. Furthermore, the results suggest that concern about the virus moderates the relationships between social isolation and remote work satisfaction, from one side, and remote work perceived productivity and remote work satisfaction from the other. This latter result suggests that the indirect sequential effect of social isolation on remote work satisfaction is conditional on concern about the virus. Some conclusions are drawn to support managers and HR officers in the choices to better manage employees’ work during the health emergency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
Managerial Strategies for Long-Term Care Organization Professionals: COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9682; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229682 - 20 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 735
Abstract
This paper aims to analyze the strategies that healthcare professionals have adopted during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in long-term care organizations in Rio de Janeiro city, Brazil, by investigating their competencies—mainly managerial ones. To reach its goals, this paper performs empirical research and [...] Read more.
This paper aims to analyze the strategies that healthcare professionals have adopted during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in long-term care organizations in Rio de Janeiro city, Brazil, by investigating their competencies—mainly managerial ones. To reach its goals, this paper performs empirical research and theoretical research. For the empirical research, the plans of professionals during COVID-19 pandemic in long-term care organizations are observed, and a questionnaire is applied to analyze observed data integrity. The data are analyzed through the Python and IBM SPSS Statistic programming languages, and descriptive analyses use descriptive statistic proportions, rates, minimum, maximum, mean, median, standard deviation, and coefficient of variation (CV). A non-parametric approach performs repeated measure comparisons using Wilcoxon’s test, while the McNemmar test is used to repeat the categorical variables. Statistical significance is assumed at the 5% level. For the theoretical research, a literature review is developed using scientific databases. The results show that for the searched period, the number of deaths and the number of people infected by COVID-19 in these organizations are low when compared to general statistics of Rio de Janeiro city. This paper concludes that these strategical adoptions have brought significant benefits to long-term care organizations, and it might motivate researchers to develop future studies related to long-term care organizations, helping to fill the literature gap on the subject. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
Personal Accomplishment and Hardiness in Reducing Emergency Stress and Burnout among COVID-19 Emergency Workers
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9071; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219071 - 31 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 923
Abstract
During the severe phase of the pandemic, COVID-19 emergency workers were engaged in long and numerous shifts of duty, resulting in exposure to various stress factors. A high stress level is associated with risk of burnout. Resilience and personal accomplishment can effectively help [...] Read more.
During the severe phase of the pandemic, COVID-19 emergency workers were engaged in long and numerous shifts of duty, resulting in exposure to various stress factors. A high stress level is associated with risk of burnout. Resilience and personal accomplishment can effectively help mitigate and reduce emergency stress levels and emotional exhaustion. The main aim of this study was to analyze the relationship of emergency stress and hardiness with burnout among emergency workers. The participants included 494 emergency volunteers from the Red Cross Committee in Veneto, Italy, engaged in various health, emergency, and social activities aimed at COVID-19 patients and people at risk of contracting the virus. Questionnaires used to measure emergency stress, hardiness and burnout were administered on an online platform. We analyzed the influence of age, sex, weekly hours of service, stress risk factors, and use of personal protective equipment. To verify the predictive effects of risk and protective factors on burnout, correlational and multivariate analyses, and regressions were conducted. Hardiness showed an effect in reducing emergency stress levels, emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization and simultaneously increased personal accomplishment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
Article
COVID-19: Risk Factors and Protective Role of Resilience and Coping Strategies for Emergency Stress and Secondary Trauma in Medical Staff and Emergency Workers—An Online-Based Inquiry
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9004; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219004 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1392
Abstract
The COVID-19 crisis has placed a heavy burden on medical staff and emergency workers, who may be at risk of developing psychological distress and secondary trauma. Coping and resilience to stress during a pandemic are protective factors that can mitigate the potential adverse [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 crisis has placed a heavy burden on medical staff and emergency workers, who may be at risk of developing psychological distress and secondary trauma. Coping and resilience to stress during a pandemic are protective factors that can mitigate the potential adverse psychological effects. Here, we investigated the direct and mediated effects of coping strategies and hardiness on secondary trauma among Italian medical staff (physicians and nurses, n = 140) and emergency workers (firefighters, civil protection, and ambulance personnel, n = 100) involved in the first phase of the pandemic. For this purpose, we collected data from participants through online questionnaires to measure emergency stress, coping strategies, hardiness, and secondary trauma. Other variables analyzed were age, sex, direct contact with COVID-19 patients, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). We performed a correlational analysis, regressions, and a mediation analysis. The results show that nurses and physicians experienced higher levels of emergency stress than emergency workers. Direct contact with COVID-19 patients, female sex, unexpected events, and lack of PPE were risk factors for emergency stress, while resilience and coping strategies played a protective role. Mediation analysis shows that coping strategies and hardiness are protective factors and reduce the effect of stress on secondary trauma. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
Article
Impacts of Layoffs and Government Assistance on Mental Health during COVID-19: An Evidence-Based Study of the United States
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7763; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187763 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1253
Abstract
This study evaluates the impact of unemployment and government financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic on the working-age population’s mental health and further examines the differential impacts between urban and non-urban groups, as well as African American (AA) and non-African American groups. Based [...] Read more.
This study evaluates the impact of unemployment and government financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic on the working-age population’s mental health and further examines the differential impacts between urban and non-urban groups, as well as African American (AA) and non-African American groups. Based on the COVID-19 Household Impact Survey, four measures of mental health conditions (nervous, depressed, lonely, and hopeless) are constructed. Our empirical analysis applies the ordinal regression model (ordered logit model) that takes both the week and regional factors into consideration to control for potential time effects and time-invariant confounders varying across regions. The results show that government aid only mitigates the psychological symptoms for the group in non-urban areas, with no significant impacts on the urban group. On the other hand, the AA working-age group experiences similar or more favorable mental health than other ethnic groups, while government aid does not alleviate the mental pressure for the AA group. Therefore, government interventions should recognize the heterogeneity of impacts on socioeconomic groups within the target population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
Hardiness and Coping Strategies as Mediators of Stress and Secondary Trauma in Emergency Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7561; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187561 - 14 Sep 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1388
Abstract
The work environment of emergency workers is an important factor related to stress. Coping with the COVID-19 emergency is a factor that is highly related to stress, and severe stress is a risk factor for developing secondary trauma. Coping and resilience can help [...] Read more.
The work environment of emergency workers is an important factor related to stress. Coping with the COVID-19 emergency is a factor that is highly related to stress, and severe stress is a risk factor for developing secondary trauma. Coping and resilience can help rescue workers to better respond in emergency situations and could protect them from secondary trauma. We aimed to explore the relationship of emergency stress, hardiness, coping strategies, and secondary trauma among emergency workers and the mediating roles of coping strategies and hardiness on the effect of stress in producing secondary trauma. The study involved 513 emergency workers from the Red Cross Committee in Veneto, one of the Italian regions most affected by the COVID-19. Participants completed questionnaires online to measure emergency stress (physical, emotional, cognitive, organizational‒relational, COVID-19, and inefficacy decisional), hardiness, coping strategies, and secondary trauma. Other variables analyzed were age, gender, weekly hours of service, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). We performed t-tests, a correlational analysis, regressions, and a mediation analysis. Hardiness and coping strategies, in particular, which stop unpleasant emotions and thoughts and problem-focused, emerged as mediators in reducing the predicted effect of stress on secondary trauma. The mediating effects of hardiness and coping strategies were found to reduce the effect of stress on arousal by 15% and the effect on avoidance by 25%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
The Costs of the COVID-19 on Subjective Well-Being: An Analysis of the Outbreak in Spain
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6243; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156243 - 03 Aug 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1926
Abstract
The COVID-19 outbreak entailed radical shifts to individuals’ daily habits that challenged their subjective well-being (SWB). Knowledge about the impact of COVID-19 on SWB is paramount for developing public policies to tackle mental health during health emergency periods. Decreases in life satisfaction are [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 outbreak entailed radical shifts to individuals’ daily habits that challenged their subjective well-being (SWB). Knowledge about the impact of COVID-19 on SWB is paramount for developing public policies to tackle mental health during health emergency periods. Decreases in life satisfaction are likely not only due to exposure to daily negative emotions but also due to hopelessness, fear, and avoidance of social interactions. We examined in a sample of 541 Spanish adults (1) reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak and (2) the mediating role of these reactions in the associations of hope and social phobia with life satisfaction through different levels of positive and negative affect. A moderated mediation analysis showed that the conditional indirect effect of hope and social anxiety on life satisfaction through information depended on the participants’ having high positive affect and low negative affect. Affect seems to be a mechanism that modulates the influence of individuals’ perception about COVID-19 on their life satisfaction. Those with high positive affect might see the “general picture” and search for adequate information as they avoid focusing on the problem and on specific information that precludes preventive behaviors. Having a positive affect might help individuals to adopt information-processing strategies during the COVID-19 outbreak that will improve their life satisfaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
Wellbeing Costs of Technology Use during Covid-19 Remote Working: An Investigation Using the Italian Translation of the Technostress Creators Scale
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5911; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155911 - 23 Jul 2020
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 8597
Abstract
During the first months of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected several countries all over the world, including Italy. To prevent the spread of the virus, governments instructed employers and self-employed workers to close their offices and work from home. Thus, the use [...] Read more.
During the first months of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected several countries all over the world, including Italy. To prevent the spread of the virus, governments instructed employers and self-employed workers to close their offices and work from home. Thus, the use of remote working increased during the pandemic and is expected to maintain high levels of application even after the emergency. Despite its benefits for both organizations and workers, remote working entails negative consequences, such as technostress. The present study had a double aim: to test the psychometric characteristics of the Italian translation of the brief version of the technostress creators scale and to apply the scale to investigate technostress during the Covid-19 emergency. The research involved 878 participants for the first study and 749 participants for the second one; they completed a self-report online questionnaire. Results confirmed the three-factor structure of the Italian technostress creators scale and highlighted positive relationships between workload, techno-stressors, work–family conflict and behavioural stress. The role of remote working conditions has been analysed as well. The study provided a useful tool for the investigation of technostress in the Italian context. Moreover, it provided indications for practice in the field of remote working and workers’ wellbeing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
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Article
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 - 11 Jul 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 3485
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)
Article
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
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 4633
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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Article
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
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2523
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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Article
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
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1460
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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Communication
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 62 | Viewed by 8887
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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Other

Jump to: Research

Essay
Analyzing the Impact of COVID-19 on Education Professionals. Toward a Paradigm Shift: ICT and Neuroeducation as a Binomial of Action
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5646; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145646 - 14 Jul 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3620
Abstract
This study analyzed the current situation of education in the context of the pandemic caused by COVID-19. The worldwide health emergency situation has caused the confinement of people and with it, the closure of centers and the transfer of face-to-face education to online [...] Read more.
This study analyzed the current situation of education in the context of the pandemic caused by COVID-19. The worldwide health emergency situation has caused the confinement of people and with it, the closure of centers and the transfer of face-to-face education to online education. Faced with these facts, teachers have had to adapt at a dizzying pace not only to new methodological approaches, but also to their own confinement, presenting high levels of stress. The purpose of this study is to offer a proposal that optimizes the work of education professionals in the current context of a pandemic through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) under the novel approach of the contributions of neuroeducation in the field of managing emotions and motivational processes, contributing to meaningful learning in students. The symbiosis of ICT and neuroeducation can make a great contribution to the paradigm shift that is taking place today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic)
Project 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
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3185
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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Case 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
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1593
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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Protocol
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 54 | Viewed by 12467
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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