This study aimed to identify occupational stress, psychosomatic symptoms, psychological distress, and their correlations among frontline nurses during and after the first peak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in Japan. Sixteen frontline nurses, aged 25 to 52 years, working in a ward with COVID-19 patients participated in this study. Two months after the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Japan, the COVID-19-related occupational stress scale (COS; questionnaire items: fear of infection and increased workload) and physical symptom scale (PS; questionnaire items: gastrointestinal symptoms, pain, appetite loss, and insomnia) were assessed. The degree of general psychological distress was evaluated using the 6-item Kessler Scale (K6). Simultaneously, participants were asked to recall their condition during the peak period of the first wave and rate it using the same scale. K6 was positively correlated with COS and PS during the peak period (rs=0.574, P=.020 and rs=0.587, P=.017, respectively). Increased workload was positively correlated with the K6 score both during and after the peak period (rs=0.869, P<.001 and rs=0.732, P = <.001, respectively) and was positively correlated with insomnia during the peak period (rs=0.498, P<.05). The COS, PS, and K6 scores during the peak period were significantly higher than those after the peak period. Psychological distress at the peak was associated with PS and occupational stress. An increased workload during peak periods can cause psychological distress and insomnia. The occupational stress, PS, and psychological distress of nurses working in COVID-19 wards improved after the peak of COVID-19.
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