With the advent of Covid-19, health workers have been under constant physical and psychological pressure. Italy was among the first countries to face the health emergency in a period of great uncertainty about the virus and the ways to treat patients. The present study aims to analyse the levels of emotional distress (ED) and psychosomatic symptoms (PS) of Italian frontline health workers during the Covid-19 emergency, and their relationship with the evaluation of the institutional responses received. A survey was available online during the peak of health system overload. Health workers' ED, PS and perceived overall wellbeing were assessed, along with the perceived adequacy of the emotional support, hygiene and safety measures, and protection received from the national government, regional administration and local hospital. A total of 103 questionnaires were collected [Women: 51.5%; mean age, 41.8 years; SD: ±10,7; high-risk zone: 41.7%]. Correlation analyses were applied to investigate the relationship between the measures of emotional distress and psychosomatic symptoms; ANOVA was applied to compare these measures among groups from different risk zones and with different perceived emotional and safety protection. About half of the health workers showed medium or high scores on emotional exhaustion, exceeded the cut-off for medium, high or very high psychosomatic symptom burdens, felt they have never or rarely been protected by the institutional responses and judged the emotional support received as inadequate; 32% judged the safety and hygiene measures as insufficient. Significant associations were found between measures of ED, PS and perceived change in personal wellbeing. Differences in perceived institutional support and adequacy of hygiene and safety measures related to significant differences in PS and perceived change in personal wellbeing. ED and PS were widely experienced by frontline health workers. Physical and psychological symptoms were amplified by the perceived lack of institutional support. Ensuring PS and hygiene and safety measures is essential to prevent worsening of health and psychosomatic symptoms in frontline health workers.
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