COVID-19; resource depletion; prosocial motivation; prosocial impact; emotional exhaustion
American Psychological Association
A focus on helping others is generally lauded, particularly in medicine, but in the context of a pandemic when health care professionals are facing increased risk, loss, and trauma, this focus can potentially be detrimental. In this study, we sought to (a) examine if health care workers intensely involved in the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are experiencing negative psychological and emotional outcomes, and (b) investigate if helping related factors (prosocial motivation and perceived prosocial impact) exacerbate and mitigate relationships to negative outcomes in a crisis situation. Using data collected from doctors and nurses before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we examine the relationship between intensity of involvement in the COVID-19 pandemic response and emotional exhaustion and depression, as well as the moderating effects of prosocial motivation and perceived prosocial impact. Data was collected at three time points (T1 and T2 prepandemic, and T3 during COVID-19), with prosocial motivation and controls collected at T1/T2 and predictors and outcomes collected during the pandemic. We find that intensity of involvement does associate with emotional exhaustion at work and that higher prosocial motivation exacerbates this relationship. Supplemental analyses suggest that the exposure to self-dimension of involvement is positively associated with emotional exhaustion and depression. Understanding the roles of prosocial motivation and prosocial impact in managing regulatory resources has important ramifications for health care workers on the frontlines of health crises responses, as these resources are necessary to manage the associated trauma.