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BMJ Open ; 11(7): e049680, 2021 07 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1304231


OBJECTIVES: The psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on doctors is a significant concern. Due to the emergence of multiple pandemic waves, longitudinal data on the impact of COVID-19 are vital to ensure an adequate psychological care response. The primary aim was to assess the prevalence and degree of psychological distress and trauma in frontline doctors during the acceleration, peak and deceleration of the COVID-19 first wave. Personal and professional factors associated with psychological distress are also reported. DESIGN: A prospective online three-part longitudinal survey. SETTING: Acute hospitals in the UK and Ireland. PARTICIPANTS: Frontline doctors working in emergency medicine, anaesthetics and intensive care medicine during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Psychological distress and trauma measured using the General Health Questionnaire-12 and the Impact of Events-Revised. RESULTS: The initial acceleration survey distributed across networks generated a sample of 5440 doctors. Peak and deceleration response rates from the original sample were 71.6% (n=3896) and 56.6% (n=3079), respectively. Prevalence of psychological distress was 44.7% (n=1334) during the acceleration, 36.9% (n=1098) at peak and 31.5% (n=918) at the deceleration phase. The prevalence of trauma was 23.7% (n=647) at peak and 17.7% (n=484) at deceleration. The prevalence of probable post-traumatic stress disorder was 12.6% (n=343) at peak and 10.1% (n=276) at deceleration. Worry of family infection due to clinical work was the factor most strongly associated with both distress (R2=0.06) and trauma (R2=0.10). CONCLUSION: Findings reflect a pattern of elevated distress at acceleration and peak, with some natural recovery. It is essential that policymakers seek to prevent future adverse effects through (a) provision of vital equipment to mitigate physical and psychological harm, (b) increased awareness and recognition of signs of psychological distress and (c) the development of clear pathways to effective psychological care. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN10666798.

COVID-19 , Psychological Distress , Cohort Studies , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Ireland/epidemiology , Longitudinal Studies , Pandemics , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , United Kingdom/epidemiology
Emerg Med J ; 38(6): 450-459, 2021 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1175182


OBJECTIVE: To quantify psychological distress experienced by emergency, anaesthetic and intensive care doctors during the acceleration phase of COVID-19 in the UK and Ireland. METHODS: Initial cross-sectional electronic survey distributed during acceleration phase of the first pandemic wave of COVID-19 in the UK and Ireland (UK: 18 March 2020-26 March 2020 and Ireland: 25 March 2020-2 April 2020). Surveys were distributed via established specialty research networks, within a three-part longitudinal study. Participants were doctors working in emergency, anaesthetic and intensive medicine during the first pandemic wave of COVID-19 in acute hospitals across the UK and Ireland. Primary outcome measures were the General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12). Additional questions examined personal and professional characteristics, experiences of COVID-19 to date, risk to self and others and self-reported perceptions of health and well-being. RESULTS: 5440 responses were obtained, 54.3% (n=2955) from emergency medicine and 36.9% (n=2005) from anaesthetics. All levels of doctor seniority were represented. For the primary outcome of GHQ-12 score, 44.2% (n=2405) of respondents scored >3, meeting the criteria for psychological distress. 57.3% (n=3045) had never previously provided clinical care during an infectious disease outbreak but over half of respondents felt somewhat prepared (48.6%, n=2653) or very prepared (7.6%, n=416) to provide clinical care to patients with COVID-19. However, 81.1% (n=4414) either agreed (31.1%, n=2709) or strongly agreed (31.1%, n=1705) that their personal health was at risk due to their clinical role. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate that during the acceleration phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost half of frontline doctors working in acute care reported psychological distress as measured by the GHQ-12. Findings from this study should inform strategies to optimise preparedness and explore modifiable factors associated with increased psychological distress in the short and long term. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN10666798.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Emergency Medicine/statistics & numerical data , Occupational Stress/epidemiology , Physicians/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , Anesthesia/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/psychology , Critical Care/statistics & numerical data , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Ireland/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Occupational Stress/etiology , Physicians/psychology , Psychological Distress , Surveys and Questionnaires , United Kingdom/epidemiology , Young Adult