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Pandemic Had Greater Effect on Work-Life Balance for Female Physicians

A sizable gender gap evident for risk of depression and anxiety

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Significant gender disparities have been observed in work and family experiences and mental health symptoms between female and male physician parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Nov. 12 in JAMA Network Open.

Elena Frank, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues assessed gender differences in work-family factors and mental health among physician parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis included 215 U.S. physicians enrolled in the Intern Health Study since their first year of residency training and who completed the August 2020 survey.

The researchers found that among physician parents, women were more likely than men to be responsible for childcare or schooling (24.6 versus 0.8 percent) and household tasks (31.4 versus 7.2 percent) during the pandemic. Women were also more likely to work primarily from home (40.9 versus 22.0 percent) and reduce their work hours (19.4 versus 9.4 percent) compared to men. Women also experienced greater work-to-family conflict, family-to-work conflict, and depressive and anxiety symptoms. The difference between women and men in depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic was not present before the pandemic.

"This study suggests that pandemic conditions are associated with an increase in gender inequalities within medicine and signals the importance of further attention and resources to mitigate the potential adverse consequences for the careers and well-being of physician mothers," the authors write.

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