Literature on the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the mental health of Health Care Workers (HCWs) is mostly based on cross-sectional surveys. We designed a longitudinal study to assess work-related stress and mental health before and after the pandemic onset in a university-hospital in Lombardia region, Italy. We report on sample representativeness and structural validity of questionnaires assessing work stress (HSE Indicator Tool, HSE-IT) and work satisfaction (WS), which were not validated in the HCWs population. n = 1287 HCWs from 67 hospital wards/offices were invited to an online survey in summer 2019 (pre-COVID-19 wave) and again during winter 2020 (COVID-19 wave). Selected hospital wards/offices did not differ from the remaining wards for turn-over and down-sizing rates, overload, sick leaves, and night shifts (Wilcoxon rank tests p-values > 0.05). Participation rates were 70% (n = 805) and 60% (n = 431) in the pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 waves, respectively. Socio-demographic and work-related characteristics did not impact data completeness nor participation to the COVID-19 wave. While confirming a 7-component structure for HSE-IT, we identified a new factor related to participation in work organization. A one-factor model for WS had satisfactory fit. Our longitudinal study based on a representative sample and adopting validated questionnaires is well-suited to elucidate the role of work conditions on the development of mental health disorders in HCWs.
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