Psychological impact of the SARS outbreak on a Singaporean rehabilitation department

Sim So Sin; Chan Yiok Huak
September 2004
International Journal of Therapy & Rehabilitation;Sep2004, Vol. 11 Issue 9, p417
Academic Journal
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) developed in Singapore in March 2003. It started from three index cases and rapidly multiplied in the hospitals. The total number of probable SARS cases was 238, of which 42% was health-care workers. This article describes the psychological impact of the SARS outbreak on the staff of a rehabilitative services department in a general hospital in Singapore 2 months after the outbreak. In total 55 rehabilitation staff were asked to participate in this voluntary survey consisting of self-reported measures on demographics, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Impact of Events Scale (IES). A questionnaire measuring changes in life priorities as a result of SARS and ways that people coped with SARS was also administered A total of 23.4% of subjects had GHQ scores higher than 5, indicating presence of psychiatric symptoms, while 12.8% of them scored more than 30 for IES, indicating presence of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Support from colleagues, taking precautionary measures and getting clear directives and disease information had helped participants to cope with the psychological impact of the epidemic Health-care facilities need to look into infection control good information dissemination and emotional support structures for staff to help their employees cope with the psychological impact of epidemic outbreaks.


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