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COVID Angels Fighting Daily Demons? Mental Health of Healthcare Workers and Religion

E. Barili, P. Bertoli, Veronica Grembi and V. Rattini

Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers from HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: Relying on a unique survey of more than 15,000 respondents in Italy conducted immediately after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we show that randomly priming religiosity in healthcare workers decreases their self-assessed level of mental distress. The effect is stronger for nurses (-11.2%) than for physicians (-7.6%). Similar results are also confirmed at the level of self-assessed concerns over different aspects of workers' lives and personal networks, potential sources of distress. Consistent with the idea that religion serves as a coping mechanism, the effect is stronger for more impacted categories (females and hospital workers) and for respondents facing more stressful situations, such as being reassigned due to the COVID-19 emergency or working in a COVID-19-related specialty (e.g., emergency care), among others. Self-classifying as religious explains the larger impact of religious priming on physicians but not on nurses. We argue that the spiritual identity of nurses was more connected by a unique media campaign that identified them as COVID angels. Hence, ad hoc messages in times of distress might reinforce the positive effect of coping mechanisms.

Keywords: Healthcare Workers; Mental Health; COVID-19; Coping Mechanisms; Religiosity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 N34 Z12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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