BACKGROUND: Health-care workers (HCW) are facing the Coronavirus disease 2019 (CoViD-19) epidemic. Consequently, psychological impairments have been reported. However, literature showed controversial results on the relationship between gender, frontline HCW, and psychological impairments. This study aims to investigate CoViD-19 fear and reluctance to work in HCW.

METHODS: Employees who worked between April and October 2020 at the UZ Brussel were included. Data were prospectively collected in two phases through a survey together with serological tests. Sampling strategy was convenience sampling.

RESULTS: 2336 employees completed the study and response rate was 70%. The prevalence of severe CoViD-19 fear in participants increased from 9% to 15%. Employees showing way less motivation raised from 9% to 14%. The seroprevalence was 7.4% and 7.9%. Multivariable analysis found a relation between reluctance to work, study phase, female gender, shortage of personal protective equipment, and poor education on CoViD-19. Furthermore, CoViD-19 fear was related to the study phase, older age, female gender, being second-line HCW, reported exposure to CoViD-19 during work, and insufficient education on CoViD-19.

DISCUSSION: Seroprevalence remained rather stable, but fear and reluctance to work significantly increased. Differences in time of data collection together with epidemiological setting might be responsible for conflicting data reported in literature.

CONCLUSION: The evolution of the epidemiological setting might influence the results of studies investigating psychological impairments in HCW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-318
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of infection control
Issue number3
Early online date12 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Coronavirus disease 2019
  • Fear for SARS-CoV-2
  • Hospital employees
  • Motivation to work
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.


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