COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Initiative: Research

Stress, Burnout and Depression In Women in Health Care during COVID-19 Pandemic: Rapid Review

Key Messages

Our preliminary findings show that women HCWs are at increased risk for stress, burnout, and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, younger women and mid-career women are more vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and burnout. These negative outcomes are triggered by individual-, organizational-, and systems-level factors. There is a limited amount of evidence on effective interventions that prevents anxiety, stress, burnout and depression during a pandemic

Lay Summary

In this preliminary rapid review, we synthesized evidence from 32 studies examining stress, burnout, and depression triggers in women in health care and the interventions that can prevent them. There is a large volume of studies examining the prevalence of mental health issues among HCWs working during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there was a significant variability in the tools used to measure mental health. This limits the generalizability of our findings. The current literature showed that women HCWs present high levels of anxiety, depression, and burnout. We identified a broad number of common triggers, including individual-level factors, such as age, family status,    factors relating to work conditions such as access to PPE, training and preparedness to care for COVID-19 patients , and systems-level factors such as clear guidelines, recognition for the work. The current literature lacks data on women’s socioeconomic, cultural and ethno-racial differences in mental

Mental health services such as online resources, psychological assistance hotlines, and group activities for stress reduction are poorly utilized  where as online-push messages of mental health self-help and self-help books are mostly preferred by women HCWs. Measures to support HCWs financially, provision of rest areas for sleep and recovery, care for basic physical needs such as food , training programs to improve resiliency , information on protective measures , access to leisure activities  and counsellors if needed were considered useful in supporting HCWs during the pandemic.


  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Women in health care
  • Stress
  • Burnout
  • Depression


  • Nominated Principal Applicant: Abi Sriharan, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Savithiri Ratnapalan, Department of Pediatrics and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.  Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
  •  Andrea Tricco, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto; Epidemiology Division and Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Queen’s Collaboration for Health Care Quality Joanna Briggs Institute Centre of Excellence, Queen’s University
  • Doina Lupea, Physician Health Program, Ontario Medical Association

For more information, please contact: Abi Sriharan,

Related Syntheses

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Vulnerable or At-Risk Populations, Healthcare, Front-line Workers and Public Safety Personnel


To ensure the rapid dissemination of this critical information, information is published in the language in which it was submitted. Please contact us for French or English translations.

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