Evolution of psychopathology, purpose in life, and moral courage in healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study

Iván Echeverria, Lorena Roselló-Jiménez, Ana Benito, Luz Angela Rojas-Bernal, Marcelo O’Higgins, Gonzalo Haro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Almost 2 years and five infection waves after the COVID-19 pandemic started, healthcare workers continued dealing with the pandemic situation and facing the health consequences and the mental health disorders it caused. This study aimed to evaluate the onset and progression of psychopathology as well as the role of predictor variables such as purpose in life and moral courage among healthcare workers during this time. Materials and methods: This was a longitudinal prospective study carried out with 45 Spanish healthcare workers who answered two questionnaires, the first questionnaire in April–May 2020 (T1) and the second questionnaire in September–October 2021 (T2). Results: Although 29.5% of the sample considered that their mental health had improved over this time, almost half of them (47.7%) said it had not changed, while 22.7% reported a decline in their mental health from the first time they were asked. Specifically, 46.8% presented anxiety, 23.4% depression, and 42.6% acute stress at T1, and 38.3% had anxiety, 17% depression, and 27.7% post-traumatic stress disorder at T2. Despite this, there were no differences between T1 and T2 anxiety scores (p = 0.53), although there was a decrease in depression (p = 0.03) and acute stress (p = 0.02) scores. Predictor variable outcomes such as purpose in life (p = 0.88) and moral courage (p = 0.86; p = 0.38) did not change over time, but when modelling the data, purpose in life predicted psychopathology at T1, which in turn affected the psychopathology results at T2. Conclusion: This study showed that, although psychopathology decreased over the months, its prevalence remained high. Even though the purpose in life predicted psychopathology at T1, it seems that once the psychopathology is established (T2), the factors that would improve it would be different from the protective factors that prevented its establishment, which become secondary.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1259001
Pages (from-to)1259001
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • anxiety
  • burnout
  • depression
  • longitudinal
  • moral courage
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • purpose in life
  • Pandemics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Humans
  • Courage
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/epidemiology
  • Morals
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Health Personnel
  • Longitudinal Studies


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