English Polski
Vol 20, No 2 (2023)
Research paper
Published online: 2023-06-04
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Working conditions and reactions of psychologists during five waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland. A prospective study

Marlena Sokół-Szawłowska1, Paweł Mierzejewski2
Psychiatria 2023;20(2):65-72.

Abstract

Introduction: The working conditions of psychologists as a professional group supporting societies in crisis after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had to undergo urgent and radical changes. They experienced the same epidemic overload as the general public. There were reports that the psychological consequences of such a situation may have effects on them, even compared to doctors treating COVID-19. The aim of the work is to show the trends of changes at work and the reaction of psychologists to the pandemic in Poland.

Material and methods: Data was collected for 5 waves of the pandemic in Poland. The online questionnaire was placed on the website of the Polish Psychiatric Association, and the number of respondents was decreasing (I — 341, II — 123, III — 118, IV — 67, V — 61).

Results: In the first wave, 60.4% of the respondents worked in a remote or hybrid mode of working with patients (a decreasing trend, because in the fifth wave — 26.3%). At the beginning of the pandemic, 77.7% of psychologists experienced stress of medium and high intensity (declining trend, but still high values, because in the fifth wave — 54.1%). The declaration of changing the value system as a result of the pandemic was most strongly expressed during the third and fourth waves (approx. 55%), and then this trend fell to 44.3%. On the other hand, the level of predicting changes/deterioration in their professional life has been systematically increasing, up to 67.2% of respondents in the last wave of the pandemic in Poland.

Conclusions: Psychologists quickly adapted to the restrictions introduced after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have replaced face-to-face meetings with remote or hybrid ones. At the end of the pandemic, some returned to their previous working mode. Hybrid work has remained in clinical practice. Most of the fears of the respondents related to the pandemic faded most often after the third wave. At the same time, however, there was a growing feeling that the pandemic would worsen/change their work. The level of subjectively experienced stress in the last wave was still disturbingly high. Further research and burnout prevention are needed.

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