Lunch Seminar Economics (LSE) - 2021/2022
Interviene: Emilia Barili, University of Genoa
Title: COVID Angels Fighting Daily Demons? Mental Health of Healthcare Workers and Religion
Authors: E. Barili, P. Bertoli, V.Grembi, V. Rattini
Abstract: Relying on a unique survey experiment of more than 15,000 respondents in Italy conducted immediately after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we show that randomly priming religiosity in healthcare workers decreases their self-assessed level of mental distress. The effect is stronger for nurses (-11.2%) than for physicians (-7.6%). Similar results are also confirmed at the level of self-assessed concerns over different aspects of workers’ lives and personal networks, potential sources of distress. Consistent with the idea that religiosity serves as a coping mechanism, the effect is stronger for more impacted categories (females and hospital workers) and for respondents facing more stressful situations, such as being reassigned due to the COVID-19 emergency or working in a COVID-19-related specialty (e.g., emergency care), among others. Self-classifying as religious explains the larger impact of religious priming on physicians but not on nurses. We argue that the spiritual identity of nurses was more connected by a unique media campaign that identified them as COVID angels. Hence, ad hoc messages in times of distress might reinforce the positive effect of coping mechanisms.