Association of COVID-19 Diagnosis and Depression in Healthcare Workers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Purpose: Depression has been on the rise in the United States prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; the amount of U.S. adults with depression increased from 8.7% in 2017-2018 to 14.4% in April of 2020. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers faced increased risk of infection and increased occupational stressors. With the growing rates of depression in the U.S. and occupational risk of contracting COVID-19, determining an association between a COVID-19 diagnosis and increased risk for depression in healthcare providers may bring awareness to potential improvement strategies for the mental health of providers, with potential to improve patient outcomes in the future. Thus, our objective was to identify disparities in depression diagnoses among healthcare workers, frequency of symptoms, and whether they had sought mental health therapy.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the 2021 National Health Interview Survey produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the relationship between a diagnosis of COVID-19 and depression severity among healthcare providers. We extracted data related to COVID-19, a diagnosis of depression, frequency of depressive thoughts, and whether or not those individuals sought out mental health therapy in the last 12 months.

Results: Among 2,293 medical workers who responded to the NHIS, 28.6% were males and 71.4% were females, with a mean age of 42.6 years old. Among all participants, 19.83% had a diagnosis of depression. However, 25.52% of those reporting COVID-19 infection reported a depression diagnosis compared to 18.33% of those who had not acquired COVID-19 (X2 = 9.74, P =.002). No significant difference was found between frequency of feeling depressed, nor in engaging in mental health therapy by COVID-19 diagnosis, although rates of mental health therapy were low—14.21% overall. Lastly, among medical workers who reported COVID-19 infection, we found that compared to those with mild or no symptoms, the odds were 2.15 (95%CI: 1.21-3.82) times more likely that individuals with moderate to severe symptoms reported having a depression diagnosis after adjusting for comorbidities of diabetes, coronary heart disease and sex.

Conclusions: Our study found that rates of depression diagnoses were higher among individuals who had COVID-19—as well as among those having more severe COVID-19 symptoms. Given the low rates of mental health therapy, screening for and providing treatment for depressive disorders among healthcare professionals—especially among those who have experienced COVID-19 infection— could mediate the prevalence of depressive symptoms and as a byproduct, improve patient care.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2023
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2023 - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, 1111 W. 17th street, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 13 Feb 202317 Feb 2023


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • COVID-19
  • depression
  • healthcare workers


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