Background: Considering the scope of the epidemic of the COVID-19 pandemic and the psychological consequences known to be associated with infection, it seems necessary to provide a screening tool for determining the presence of psychological symptoms among the population in the healthcare sector for prevention and timely provision of psychological interventions.
Objectives: This study aimed to design and standardize a comprehensive screening test and assess clinical aspects of psychological symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Methods: This is a descriptive survey-based study. The study was permitted in two phases. The statistical population included all physicians, nurses, and staff who worked in COVID-19 care wards of hospitals in Ardabil (Iran) in 2021 and were in direct contact with these patients. A total of 200 participants in Phase I and 98 in Phase II were selected via the purposive sampling method. An initial researcher-made questionnaire was used to assess the psychological symptoms of the participants in eight and seven categories in Phase I and Phase II, respectively. The data were analyzed using SPSS26 and R software.
Results: Delphi method and second-order confirmatory factor analysis verified the validity of the questionnaire. Findings related to measuring the reliability of the questionnaire in phase I showed that although the questionnaire was reliable based on inter-rater and intra-rater, the test-retest reliability method based on Cohen's kappa coefficients showed no reliability for items 12 and 49-54. In phase II, the unreliable items were removed and the study was permitted to be conducted again with new samples. The results of intra-rater reliability also demonstrated that an intraclass correlation coefficient for each of the seven scales of the questionnaire was greater than 0.75. In addition, the results of inter-rater reliability showed that Cronbach's alpha coefficient for each scale of the questionnaire was greater than 0.70. Furthermore, high amounts of sensitivity and specificity as well as high area under the receiver operating characteristic curve verified the good accuracy of the final questionnaire.
Conclusion: Based on the findings, it can be said that the final proposed questionnaire with seven scales (55 items) was a tool with good validity, reliability, and accuracy to assess the psychological symptoms associated with COVID-19. However, since the participants of this study consisted of only medical personnel, the generalization of the results to the general population needs further investigation.