Psychological Effects of Screen Time in Health Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2021 Aug 26;23(5):21m02959. doi: 10.4088/PCC.21m02959.


Objective: As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is the first pandemic to occur in the modern smartphone era, people universally rely on their electronic devices to stay current on the rapidly evolving circumstances. The objective of this study was to examine how daily screen time levels affect the mental health of health care workers attempting to stay up to date on the ever-changing COVID-19-related information available to them.

Methods: Health care workers at an academic teaching hospital were asked to participate in a 12-question online-based survey between the dates of May 30, 2020, and June 3, 2020. The questions included their sex, age range, occupation, department, daily screen time, changes in screen time in the last 4 weeks, and mental health outcomes such as sleep, mood, anxiety, and difficulty controlling worry.

Results: No association was found between age, sex, occupation, and screen time. There was a statistically significant association between the type of department and daily screen time hours (P = .012). A positive trend was noted between screen time and sleep disruption (P = .09). An increase in hours in the last 4 weeks was associated with age (P = .03). A positive trend was also noted for an increase in screen hours and sleep disruption (P = .11) and anxiety (P = .10).

Conclusions: A possible explanation for our finding of screen time not being associated with mental health outcomes could be that the knowledge that information was readily available through technology provided comfort to people as the pandemic evolved and brought changes to their daily lives.

PMID:34449985 | DOI:10.4088/PCC.21m02959

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