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Fear, Worry and Workplace Harassment Related to the COVID-19 Epidemic Among Employees in Japan: Prevalence and Impact on Mental and Physical Health

12 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2020

See all articles by Natsu Sasaki

Natsu Sasaki

University of Tokyo - Department of Mental Health

Reiko Kuroda

University of Tokyo - Division for Environment, Health and Safety

Kanami Tsuno

Kanagawa University of Human Services - Graduate School of Health Innovation

Norito Kawakami

University of Tokyo - Department of Mental Health

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Abstract

Background: Prevalence of fear, worry, and workplace harassment related to COVID-19, and their impact on employees’ mental and physical health, has not been reported.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study retrieving the sample from the cohort of full-time employees in February 2019 (n=4,120). Participants (n=1,448, 35.1%) completed an online self-report questionnaire on March 19-22, 2020. We explored the frequency and examined whether global and specific fears, worries and workplace harassment related to COVID-19 had effects on employees’ psychological distress and physical symptoms.

Findings: Among 1,421 respondents, 80% had global fear or worry; more than two-thirds feared infection; and more than 30% worried about job instability as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of 50 respondents (2.3%) had experienced workplace harassment related to COVID-19. Most of the fear, worry and workplace harassment were weakly but significantly associated with psychological distress and physical symptoms. Respondents with chronic physical conditions reported more global fear and worry.

Interpretation: This cross-sectional study of employees of Japan showed a high prevalence of fear, worry, and workplace harassment related to COVID-19. Most of these findings were associated with poor mental and physical health. Occupational health professionals and primary care physicians, therefore, need to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace and take care of patients at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Funding Statement: This work was supported by internal funds of the Department of Mental Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo.

Declaration of Interests: None.

Ethics Approval Statement: Following approval by the research ethics committee of the Graduate School of Medicine and the Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo (No. 10856-(2)), we conducted an online survey of the baseline respondents from 19 to 22 March 2020.

Keywords: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, novel coronavirus, harrasment, worker, occupational health, mental health

Suggested Citation

Sasaki, Natsu and Kuroda, Reiko and Tsuno, Kanami and Kawakami, Norito, Fear, Worry and Workplace Harassment Related to the COVID-19 Epidemic Among Employees in Japan: Prevalence and Impact on Mental and Physical Health (4/2/2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3569887 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3569887

Natsu Sasaki

University of Tokyo - Department of Mental Health

Tokyo
Japan

Reiko Kuroda

University of Tokyo - Division for Environment, Health and Safety

Tokyo
Japan

Kanami Tsuno

Kanagawa University of Human Services - Graduate School of Health Innovation

Kawasaki City, Kanagawa 210-0821
Japan

Norito Kawakami (Contact Author)

University of Tokyo - Department of Mental Health ( email )

Tokyo
Japan

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