Psychotropic drug consumption doubles among wage earners during COVID-19 pandemic

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A survery conducted by the UAB and the ISTAS-CCOO, still available online, points to the seriousness of the situation. The results also show that over one third of workers state that their state of health has worsened.


The preliminary results of the survey related to the conditions of work, insecurity and health of wage earners residing in Spain during the COVID-19 pandemic (“Condicions de treball, inseguretat i salut dels i les treballadores residents a Espanya en el context de la COVID-19”) point towards the consequences of this outbreak on the mental health of participants. The project is being conducted jointly by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Union Institute of Work, Environment and Health (ISTAS-CCOO) and aims to reveal the impact COVID-19 is having among those who on 14 March 2020 were still working (self-employed and salaried employees), including those who were affected by an ERTO or made redundant. The project is based on an epidemiological survey launched on 1 May and which continues to be available online.

The preliminary analysis of the first 12,000 questionnaires answered estimates that among wage earners, a bit over one third of them consider that their state of health has worsened during the pandemic; since the beginning of the lockdown, the number of workers consuming opioid analgesics has doubled, and those taking tranquillizers, sedatives or sleeping pills has risen by 20%. In addition, approximately one in every three persons already consuming these drugs before the COVID-19 outbreak have increased the dosage during lockdown.

Moreover, almost half of all wage earners state having to travel to work without adequate protection measures to prevent becoming infected with the coronavirus, and 14% affirm not wearing protection always or almost always when travelling to work.

In absence of a more detailed analysis, it is suspected that these results could be even more unfavourable among specific professional groups, some of them relatively small in terms of number of workers, and which in order to be analysed with greater consistency a larger amount of questionnaires would need to be answered. For this same reason, the research team has not yet analysed questionnaires answered by those self-employed. Thus, researchers encourage the population to disseminate and answer the questionnaire as much as possible.

Link to the questionnaire:

This information is related to the following SDG

  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Good health and well-being

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