Mental health among healthcare workers and other vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic and other coronavirus outbreaks: A rapid systematic review

Eleonora P Uphoff, Chiara Lombardo, Gordon Johnston, Lauren Weeks, Mark Rodgers, Sarah Dawson, Catherine Seymour, Antonis A Kousoulis, Rachel Churchill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Although most countries and healthcare systems worldwide have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, some groups of the population may be more vulnerable to detrimental effects of the pandemic on mental health than others. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesise evidence currently available from systematic reviews on the impact of COVID-19 and other coronavirus outbreaks on mental health for groups of the population thought to be at increased risk of detrimental mental health impacts.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of reviews on adults and children residing in a country affected by a coronavirus outbreak and belonging to a group considered to be at risk of experiencing mental health inequalities. Data were collected on symptoms or diagnoses of any mental health condition, quality of life, suicide or attempted suicide. The protocol for this systematic review was registered in the online PROSPERO database prior to commencing the review (

RESULTS: We included 25 systematic reviews. Most reviews included primary studies of hospital workers from multiple countries. Reviews reported variable estimates for the burden of symptoms of mental health problems among acute healthcare workers, COVID-19 patients with physical comorbidities, and children and adolescents. No evaluations of interventions were identified. Risk- and protective factors, mostly for healthcare workers, showed the importance of personal factors, the work environment, and social networks for mental health.

CONCLUSIONS: This review of reviews based on primary studies conducted in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic shows a lack of evidence on mental health interventions and mental health impacts on vulnerable groups in the population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0254821
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2021

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© 2021 Uphoff et al.

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