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Canadian healthcare workers’ mental health and health behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from nine representative samples between April 2020 and February 2022

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posted on 2024-02-02, 13:37 authored by Vincent Gosselin Boucher, Brook L. Haight, Camille Léger, Frédérique Deslauriers, Simon L. Bacon, Kim L. Lavoie, Eli M. Puterman, Nicola PaineNicola Paine, iCARE study team

Objective: In the context of COVID-19, Canadian healthcare workers (HCWs) worked long hours, both to respond to the pandemic and to compensate for colleagues who were not able to work due to infection and burnout. This may have had detrimental effects on HCWs’ mental health, as well as engagement in health-promoting behaviours. This study aimed to identify changes in mental health outcomes and health behaviours experienced by Canadian HCWs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Methods: Nine representative samples (N total = 1615 HCWs) completed the iCARE survey using an online polling firm between April 2020 (Time 1) and February 2022 (Time 9). Participants were asked about the psychological effects of COVID-19 (e.g., feeling anxious) and about changes in their health behaviours (e.g., alcohol use, physical activity). 

Results: A majority of the HCWs identified as female (65%), were younger than 44 years old (66%), and had a university degree (55%). Female HCWs were more likely than male HCWs to report feeling anxious (OR = 2.68 [1.75, 4.12]), depressed (OR = 1.63 [1.02, 2.59]), and irritable (OR = 1.61 [1.08, 2.40]) throughout the first two years of the pandemic. Female HCWs were more likely than their male counterparts to report eating more unhealthy diets (OR = 1.54 [1.02, 2.31]). Significant differences were also revealed by age, education level, income, parental status, health status, and over time.

Conclusion: Results demonstrate that the impacts of COVID-19 on HCWs’ mental health and health behaviours were significant, and varied by sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., sex, age, income).


Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR: MM1-174903; MS3-173099; SMC-151518; PJT-479128)

Canada Research Chairs Program (950-232522

Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQ-S: 251618 and 34757)

Fonds de recherche du QuébecSociété et culture (FRQSC: 2019-SE1-252541)

Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec (2020-2022-COVID19-PSOv2a-51754)

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MFE-181809)

Fonds de Recherche du Québec: Santé (313956)

Michael Smith Health Research BC (2021-1498)

Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Physical Activity and Health Chair

CIHR-SPOR initiative through the Mentoring Chair program (SMC-151518)

Fonds de recherche du Québec: Santé (FRQS) through the Chaire de recherche double en Intelligence Artifcielle / Santé Numérique ET sciences de la vie program (309811).

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (950-232522)

UQAM Strategic Research Chair

MBMC/CIHR Master’s scholarship

CIHR Masters scholarship



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Canadian Journal of Public Health






823 - 839




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Nicola Paine is part of the iCARE study team. iCARE team: Lead investigators: Kim L. Lavoie, PhD, University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and CIUSSS-NIM, CANADA; Simon L. Bacon, PhD, Concordia University and CIUSSS-NIM, CANADA. Collaborators (in alphabetical order): ARGENTINA: Nora Granana, PhD, Hospital Durand; AUSTRALIA: Jacqueline Boyle, PhD, Monash University; Margie Danchin, PhD, Melbourne Medical School; Joanne Enticott, PhD, Monash University; Jessica Kaufman, PhD, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; AUSTRIA: Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, MD, Medizinische Universität Wien; BRAZIL: Eduardo Caputo, PhD, Universidade Federal de Pelotas; CANADA: Mohamad Baydoun, PhD, University of Regina; Andrea Gershon, PhD, Sunnybrook Research Institute; Ariane Bélanger-Gravel, PhD, Université Laval; Tavis Campbell, PhD, University of Calgary; Linda Carlson, PhD, University of Calgary; Kim Corace, PhD, University of Ottawa; Rubee Dev, PhD, University of British Colombia; Olivier Drouin, MD, CHU Sainte-Justine/Université de Montréal; Gary Garber, PhD, University of Ottawa/ Public Health Ontario; Vincent Gosselin Boucher, PhD, UQAM, University of British Colombia; Samir Gupta, MD, University of Toronto; Catherine Herba, PhD, UQAM; Jack Jedwab, PhD, Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration and the Association for Canadian Studies; Keven Joyal-Desmarais, PhD, Concordia University; Eric Kennedy, PhD, York University; Joanne Liu, PhD, McGill University; Sandra Pelaez, PhD, Université de Montréal; Paul Poirier, MD, Université Laval; Justin Presseau, PhD, University of Ottawa; Eli Puterman, PhD, University of British Columbia; Joshua Rash, PhD, Memorial University; Johanne Saint-Charles, PhD, UQAM; Jovana Stojanovic, PhD, Concordia University; Michael Spivock, PhD, Shared Services Canada; Geneviève Szczepanik, PhD, MBMC; Michael Vallis, PhD, Dalhousie University; COLOMBIA: Mariantonia Lemos-Hoyos, PhD, Universidad EAFIT; CYPRUS: Angelos Kassianos, PhD, University of Cyprus; FRANCE: Gregory Ninot, PhD, Université de Montpellier; Mathieu Beraneck, PhD, Université de Paris, CNRS; GERMANY: Beate Ditzen, PhD, Heidelberg University; GREECE: Theodora Skoura, PhD, Aretaieio Hospital Athens University; INDIA: Delfn Lovelina Francis, MDS (PhD), Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, SIMATS; IRELAND: Hannah Durand, PhD, National University of Ireland, Galway; Oonagh Meade, PhD, National University of Ireland, Galway; Gerry Molloy, PhD, National University of Ireland, Galway; Chris Noone, PhD, National University of Ireland, Galway; ITALY: Stefania Paduano, PhD, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia; Valeria Raparelli, PhD, Sapienza - University of Rome; KENYA: Hildah Oburu, PhD, University of Nairobi; SAUDI ARABIA: Abu Zeeshan Bari, PhD, Taibah University; SLOVAKIA: Iveta Nagyova, PhD, PJ Safarik University - UPJS; SWITZERLAND: Susanne Fischer, PhD, University of Zurich; TURKEY: Ceprail Şimşek, MD, Health Science University; UK: Joanne Hart, PhD, Manchester University; Lucie Byrne-Davis, PhD, University of Manchester; Nicola Paine, PhD, Loughborough University; Susan Michie, PhD, University College London; USA: Michele Okun, PhD, University of Colorado; Sherri Sheinfeld Gorin, PhD, University of Michigan; Johannes Thrul, PhD, Johns Hopkins University; Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, PhD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Abebaw Yohannes, PhD, Azusa Pacifc University. Students (in alphabetical order): AUSTRALIA: Shrinkhala Dawadi, MSc, Monash University; Kushan Ranakombu, PhD, Monash University; BRAZIL: Daisuke Hayashi Neto, BA, Unicamp; CANADA: Frédérique Deslauriers, BA, UQAM and CIUSSS-NIM; Amandine Gagnon-Hébert, BA, UQAM and CIUSSS-NIM; Mahrukh Jamil, BA, Concordia University and CIUSSS-NIM; Camille Léger, BSc, UQAM and CIUSSS-NIM; Callum MacLeay, BA, UQAM and CIUSSS-NIM; Ariany Marques Vieira, MSc, Concordia University and CIUSSS-NIM; Sarah O’Connor, BA, Université Laval; Zackary van Allen, PhD, University of Ottawa; COLOMBIA: Susana Torres, MSc, Universidad EAFIT. Community Participants: CANADA: Sophie Duval, MSc; Johanne O’Malley; Katherine Séguin, BA; Kyle Warkentin; INDIA: Sarah Nethan.






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Dr Nicola Paine. Deposit date: 1 February 2024

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