Employees work at the Canadian Hospital Specialities (CHS) helping take dual COVID-19 testing swab kits and separating them into two units to help with swab capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic in Oakville, Ont., on Monday, June 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

B.C. study finds 25% of people think health-care workers shouldn’t be out in public

One-third said they didn’t want to be anywhere near a health-care worker

A study from the University of B.C. found that 25 per cent of people don’t think that health-care workers should be out in public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, found that 32 per cent thought that health-care workers in hospitals are “more likely” to have COVID-19, despite the risk being low. The virus is only slightly more prevalent among health-care workers than it is among the general population, at 0.14 per cent compared to 0.10 per cent.

The bigger risk, researchers said, is stress, which is added to by stigma and judgement.

“Being around healthcare workers is not dangerous,” said Steven Taylor, a professor of psychiatry in UBC’s faculty of medicine and lead author of the study. “People need to look at the facts and understand that we don’t need to add to the stress that healthcare workers are already experiencing. If we create burdens on our healthcare workers, it’s going to undermine their ability to perform their jobs properly.”

The study also found that 33 per cent of people didn’t want to be around health-care workers at all, while 31 per cent believed that workers who treat people with COVID-19 should be separated from their families.

While health-care workers have been celebrated throughout the pandemic, researchers found that people who participate in the nightly 7 p.m. cheers aren’t any less likely to hold stigmatizing views.

“What struck me the most was this combination of people getting out there and applauding from the safety of their balconies, but also having some very strong and mistaken beliefs about the dangers that healthcare workers pose,” Taylor said.

Researchers surveyed a random sample of 3,551 people in Canada and the U.S. between May 6 and 19.

ALSO READ: B.C. breaks single-day record for new COVID 19 cases; 269 total cases over weekend

ALSO READ: Stats Canada survey suggests some Canadians worried about safety of COVID-19 vaccine


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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