Risk factors for COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers. A first report from a living systematic review and meta-analysis

Tafadzwa Dzinamarira, Sphamandla Josias Nkambule, Mbuzeleni Hlongwa, Malizgani Mhango, Patrick Gad Iradukunda, Itai Chitungo, Mathias Dzobo, Munyaradzi Paul Mapingure, Innocent Chingombe, Moreblessing Mashora, Roda Madziva, Helena Herrera, Pelagia Makanda, James Atwine, Elliot Mbunge, Godfrey Musuka, Grant Murewanhema, Bernard Ngara

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Health care workers (HCWs) are more than ten times more likely to be infected with coronavirus infectious disease 2019 (COVID-19) than the general population, thus demonstrating the burden of COVID-19 among HCWs. Factors that expose HCWs to a differentially high-risk of COVID-19 acquisition are important to elucidate, enable appropriate public health interventions to mitigate against high risk and reduce adverse outcomes from the infection. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to summarize and critically analyze the existing evidence on SARS-CoV-2 risk factors among HCWs. With no geographical limitation, we included studies, in any country, that reported (i) the PCR laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 as an independent variable (ii) one or more COVID-19 risk factors among HCWs with risk estimates (relative risk, odds ratio, or hazard ratio) (iii) original, quantitative study design, and published in English or Mandarian. Our initial search resulted in 470 articles overall, however, only 10 studies met the inclusion criteria for this review. Out of the 10 studies included in the review, inadequate/lack of protective personal equipment, performing tracheal intubation, and gender were the most common risk factors of COVID-19. Based on the random effects adjusted pooled relative risk, HCWs who reported the use of protective personal equipment were 29% (95% CI: 16% to 41%) less likely to test positive for COVID-19. The study also revealed that HCWs who performed tracheal intubations were 34% (95% CI: 14% to 57%) more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Interestingly, this study showed that female HCWs are at 11% higher risk (RR 1.11 95% CI 1.01–1.21) of COVID-19 than their male counterparts. This article presents initial findings from a living systematic review and meta-analysis, therefore, did not yield many studies; however, it revealed a significant insight into better understanding COVID-19 risk factors among HCWs; insights important for devising preventive strategies that protect them from this infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-268
JournalSafety and Health at Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2022


  • COVID-19
  • healthcare worker
  • risk factor
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • systematic review


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