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COVID-19 Creating Stress, Anxiety Among Emergency Physicians

Workplace exposure has had major impact on their home lives, behaviors

stressed nurse

THURSDAY, July 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has created substantial workplace and home anxiety among academic emergency medicine physicians, according to a study published online July 21 in Academic Emergency Medicine.

Robert M. Rodriguez, M.D., from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, and colleagues surveyed 426 emergency medicine physicians at seven academic emergency departments using validated stress scales. COVID-19-related measures as well as anxiety and burnout levels, home life changes, and behaviors were assessed.

The researchers found that on a 7-point scale (1 being "not at all" and 7 being "extremely"), the median reported effect of the pandemic on both work and home stress levels was 5. There was an increase seen in reported levels of emotional exhaustion/burnout (difference from pre-COVID-19 medians, 1.8). The vast majority of physicians (90.8 percent) reported changing their behavior toward family and friends, especially by decreasing signs of affection (76.8 percent). Increasing personal protective equipment availability, offering rapid COVID-19 testing at physician discretion, providing clearer communication about COVID-19 protocol changes, and assuring that physicians can take leave for care of family and self were the most commonly cited measures reported to alleviate stress and anxiety.

"Some of our findings may be intuitive, but this research provides a critical early template for the design and implementation of interventions that will address the mental health needs of emergency physicians in the COVID-19 pandemic era," Rodriguez said in a statement.

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