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Research article: Psychological stress of healthcare professionals caring for pediatric cancer patients during the outbreak of COVID-19
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  • Kenichiro Kobayashi,
  • Michiko Inoue,
  • Mariko Shibata,
  • Takayuki Hamabata,
  • Toshiro Maihara,
  • Ikuya Usami,
  • Koichi Mino,
  • Toshio Heike
Kenichiro Kobayashi
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Michiko Inoue
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Mariko Shibata
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Takayuki Hamabata
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Toshiro Maihara
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Ikuya Usami
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Koichi Mino
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Toshio Heike
Hyogo Prefectural Amagasaki General Medical Center
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Abstract

Background: In response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the psychological distress of health care workers (HCWs) is overwhelming, irrespective of the extent of exposure to infected patients. Infection control and prevention (ICP) measures for mobile children and youths are indispensable to contemplate sustainable public health management, but it is difficult to define the clear trade-offs between ensuring virus-containing strategy and resuming ordinary childcare. Aim: To analyze the occupational distress and dilemma of HCWs working on the pediatric cancer ward as a representative model to conceptualize the core of anxiety at the childcare frontline. Methods: Qualitative and quantitative studies using an empirical phenomenological approach and questionnaire survey from 20 th April to 5 th May 2020. Results: High confidence in the institutional ICP measures is fundamental to maintain a strong social responsibility and resilience of HCWs against the crisis, but they are still under overwhelming anxiety within themselves, particularly about being infected to become an asymptomatic carrier who might pass the virus to patients. Both nursing staff and HCWs with less than 5 years of working experience perceived more intense psychological distress in comparison with physicians. Conclusion: We would like to suggest that target approaches, such as activating interpersonal communication and facilitating ICP adherence, are indispensable to maintain the safety climate among HCWs. Recognizing the psychological distress of childcare HCWs is important to mitigate their occupational distress, but also development of future public health strategy in the era of COVID-19.