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Emotional exhaustion in front-line healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China: the effects of time pressure, social sharing and cognitive appraisal

  • Wang, Huan1
  • Zhou, Xinyao2
  • Jia, Xiuli3
  • Song, Caiping4
  • Luo, Xu5
  • Zhang, Hua6
  • Wu, Hao4
  • Ye, Junying6
  • 1 Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China , Chongqing (China)
  • 2 Wuhan University, Wuhan, China , Wuhan (China)
  • 3 The 987 Hospital of PLA, Baoji, China , Baoji (China)
  • 4 Army Medical University, No. 83 Xinqiao Zhengjie, Shapingba District, Chongqing, China , Chongqing (China)
  • 5 Army Medical University, Chongqing, China , Chongqing (China)
  • 6 Chongqing Health Center for Women and Children, No.120 Longshan Road, Yubei District, Chongqing, China , Chongqing (China)
Published Article
BMC Public Health
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Apr 30, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-021-10891-w
Springer Nature


BackgroundWith the increasing spread of COVID-19, healthcare workers, especially front-line medical staff, have become more vulnerable to emotional exhaustion.ObjectivesThis study aimed to determine the influence of time pressure on the emotional exhaustion of front-line healthcare workers, and explore the effects of social sharing and cognitive reappraisal on this.MethodsThis cross-sectional study was conducted in March 2020. A total of 232 questionnaires were completed by front-line healthcare workers in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China. Hierarchical linear regression and conditional process analysis were performed to explore the relationships among time pressure, social sharing, cognitive reappraisal, and emotional exhaustion.ResultsTime pressure was positively associated with social sharing and emotional exhaustion. Social sharing presented the dark side, a negative effect that was always kept concealed, in terms of the impact on emotional exhaustion. Cognitive reappraisal negatively moderated the relationship between time pressure and social sharing, and it further indirectly influenced the relationship between time pressure and emotional exhaustion through social sharing.ConclusionsOur findings shed light on how time pressure influences the emotional exhaustion of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 period. Although social sharing is commonly regarded as a positive behavior, we identified a dark side in terms of its impact. We also identified that improving cognitive reappraisal may present a positive strategy toward alleviating emotional exhaustion.

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