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      Understanding risk and protective factors to UK railway workers' mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey

      abstract

      , PhD a , * , , MSc a , , MSc a , , PhD a

      Lancet (London, England)

      Elsevier Ltd.

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          Abstract

          Background

          Frontline railway workers have provided an essential service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Although railway workers are known to be at risk of developing traumatic stress-related conditions, little is known about the effects of COVID-19 on the mental wellbeing of railway workers in the UK. We tested two hypotheses: (1) increased scores in COVID-19-related risk factors will predict decreased mental wellbeing and (2) protective factors will mediate the relationship between COVID-19-related risk factors and mental wellbeing.

          Methods

          The study consisted of a cross-sectional online survey exploring the effects of COVID-19 on the mental wellbeing of railway workers (n=906) in the UK, using data collected during third lockdown (between Dec 1, 2020, and March 24, 2021). The survey, advertised on social media and internal platforms of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, included measures of COVID-19-related risk factors (COVID-19 Perceived Risk Scale, COVID-19 Stress Measure, COVID-19 Burnout Scale, and PTSD Checklist–Civilian Version) and protective factors (brief resilience coping, team resilience, general help-seeking questionnaire) associated with mental wellbeing (Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale–Short Form). We analysed responses via multiple regression and parallel mediation analyses. Open-ended questions, exploring railway workers' views of risks and protective factors for their mental wellbeing, were analysed using content analysis. The institutional ethics committee granted ethical approval and participants gave informed consent.

          Findings

          COVID-19 related risk factors negatively predicted wellbeing (r 2=0·50, F=273·556 [3 variables, n=813], p<0·0001). Protective factors significantly mediated the relationship between wellbeing and burnout (indirect effect [IE] –0·0252, 95% CI –0·0364 to –0·0152), stress (IE –0·0252, –0·0364 to –0·0152), post-traumatic stress disorder (IE –0·0311, –0·0493 to –0·0145), and risk perception (IE –0·0244, –0·0411 to –0·0089). Content analysis found self-reported mental health decline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, perceived loss of workplace supports, need for psychological support, and concerns for the future.

          Interpretation

          These findings emphasise the importance of adaptive coping and team-based resilience in alleviating the negative impact that COVID-19 has on railway workers' mental wellbeing and in preventing burnout. Work-based supports and access to psychological input for railway workers who need it is highlighted. Building a resilient railway workforce moving forward requires attention to staff mental wellbeing and to ensuring that support systems are robust and accessible.

          Funding

          None.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Lancet
          Lancet
          Lancet (London, England)
          Elsevier Ltd.
          0140-6736
          1474-547X
          26 November 2021
          November 2021
          26 November 2021
          : 398
          : S33
          Affiliations
          [a ]School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
          Author notes
          [* ]Correspondence to: Dr Nicola Cogan, School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XP, UK
          Article
          S0140-6736(21)02576-9
          10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02576-9
          8617326
          34227966
          5ffd090d-50ca-4066-85e8-c7da501c002d
          Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

          Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

          Categories
          Meeting Abstracts

          Medicine

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