Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate how the changed work routines during the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the working environment for hospital-based maternity and neonatal health care workers, and to identify preventive measures to be used in future situations when health care organizations are under pressure. Methods: All maternity and neonatal health care workers in a Swedish university hospital were surveyed during October 2019 and September 2020. The data was analyzed by document analysis of implemented changes in working routines, a quantitative analysis of the overall effects on the working conditions, and a qualitative analysis of open-ended responses. Results: A total of 660 maternity and neonatal health care workers completed the pre-COVID-19 survey (74% response rate) and 382 the COVID-19 survey (35% response rate). Lack of personal protective equipment, worry about becoming infected, uncertainty whether implemented changes were enough, and challenges in communicating updated routines had negative effects on maternity and neonatal health care workers’ working conditions. Team spirit and feeling valued by peers had a positive effect. Conclusions: Results suggest that negative effects on maternity and neonatal health care workers’ health can partly be prevented in future critical situations by creating a work climate that acknowledges the employees’ worry about being infected, securing adequate pre-conditions for managers, creating a strong psychosocial safety climate and systematically improving the working conditions for the maternity and neonatal health care workers, as well as maintaining the positive perceived effects of increased team spirit and feeling valued by peers.
Elsevier, Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, Volume 33, September 2022