Pandemic Has ER Docs Stressed Out and Weary: Survey

TUESDAY, July 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) – The coronavirus pandemic has left many U.S. emergency physicians with high levels of anxiety and emotional exhaustion, according to a new study.

The research included 426 emergency physicians (median age: 35) in seven cities in California, Louisiana and New Jersey who were interviewed during the early stages of the outbreak.

Doctors have reported moderate to severe anxiety at work and at home. They expressed concern about exposing their relatives and friends to the new coronavirus, and most reported changes in behavior towards family and friends – especially fewer signs of affection.

Overall, female physicians reported slightly higher stress than men.

On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 representing extreme stress, the female doctors rated the impact of the pandemic at 6 at work and at home. The median for men was 5 for both. The median means that half reported more stress, the other half less.

These two levels of emotional exhaustion or burnout had fallen from a median of 3 before the pandemic to 4.

“Some of our findings may be intuitive, but this research provides a critical first model for the design and implementation of interventions that will meet the mental health needs of emergency physicians in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. “said lead author Dr Robert Rodriguez. , professor of emergency medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.

Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) was the biggest cause for concern, and doctors most often said tackling the problem would do the most to reduce their anxiety.

Doctors have also expressed concerns about a shortage of rapid treatment tests, the risk of spread to the community by released patients, and the well-being of colleagues diagnosed with COVID-19.

To reduce anxiety, they called for better access to PPE; increased availability of rapid tests and clear communication of changes in COVID-19 protocols; as well as guaranteed access to self-testing and personal leave for frontline providers.

The results were published on July 21 in the journal University emergency medicine.

“Occupational exposure has changed the vast majority of the behavior of physicians at work and at home,” Rodriguez said in an academic press release. β€œAt home, doctors worry about exposing family members or roommates, who may need to self-quarantine, and the effects of excessive social isolation due to their frontline work.

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