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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Mental-Emotional Wellbeing of Primary Healthcare Professionals: A Descriptive Correlational Study

Regina Lai-Tong Lee1,2,*, Anson Chiu-Yan Tang3, Ho-Yu Cheng1, Connie Yuen-Yu Chong1, Wilson Wai-San Tam4, Wai-Tong Chien1, Sally Wai-Chi Chan5

1 The Nethersole School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 518172, China
2 School of Nursing and Midwifery, College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, 2325, Australia
3 School of Nursing, Tung Wah College, Hong Kong, 200051, China
4 Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, National University of Singapore, 079903, Singapore
5 Tung Wah College, Hong Kong, 200051, China

* Corresponding Author: Regina Lai-Tong Lee. Email: email

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion 2023, 25(3), 327-342.


The present study aimed to examine work environment related factors and frontline primary healthcare professionals’ mental-emotional wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic in school communities of Hong Kong. A total of 61 (20%) school health nurses (frontline primary healthcare professionals) participated in a cross-sectional online survey from March to June 2020. Outcomes of mental-emotional health were measured using the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (14-item scale with three subscales related to emotional, social and psychological wellbeing); the Perceived Stress Scale (10-item scale with two subscales related to perceived helplessness and lack of self-efficacy; and the Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced Inventory (Brief COPE), a 28-item inventory with two subscales related to adaptive and maladaptive strategies. Almost half (42.6%) of participants experienced mental health problems. Those employed in government subsidized schools had signifi- cantly lower scores in mental health wellbeing than those who worked in private schools. Factors relating to increased mental health problems included lack of emotional support, inadequate training relating to infection prevention and control measures, disengagement and self-blame. A variety of factors influencing school health nurses’social, emotional and psychological wellbeing in their work environment during the COVID-19 pandemic were also reported. The mental-emotional wellbeing of school nurses may relate to their subjective feeling of loneliness as participants were the sole frontline primary healthcare professional working in the school community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Study findings provide relevant evidence for management teams to build a culture of psychological and social support into workplace policies and procedures. Continuous staff development and adequate social support are important to promote the mental-emotional wellbeing of primary healthcare professionals in school communities as they play a significant role in safeguarding resources during pandemics.


Cite This Article

Lee, R. L., Tang, A. C., Cheng, H., Chong, C. Y., Tam, W. W. et al. (2023). The Impact of COVID-19 on the Mental-Emotional Wellbeing of Primary Healthcare Professionals: A Descriptive Correlational Study. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 25(3), 327–342.

cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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