Doctors: Lonely and Burned Out in COVID-19. How Are They Coping?

October 22, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Engagement & Morale, Health and Wellness

Last modified October 23, 2020

A recent survey from Medscape found there were high levels of loneliness, stress, and burnout in physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation and relationship stress also add to the overall problem. Out of roughly 7500 physicians who were surveyed, about two thirds (64%) of US physicians reported experiencing more intense burnout, and close to half (46%) reported feeling more lonely and isolated during the pandemic.

“We know that stress, which was already significant in physicians, has increased dramatically for many physicians during the pandemic. That’s understandable, given the circumstances they’ve been working under,” said Christine A. Sinsky, MD, vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association. Physicians are stressed about potentially contracting the virus or infecting family members, being overworked and fatigued, witnessing wrenching scenes of patients dying alone, grieving the loss of patients, colleagues, or family members, and sometimes lacking adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), she said.

In all eight countries that were surveyed, a significant number of respondents reported lacking appropriate PPE “sometimes,” “often,” or “always” when treating COVID-19 patients. Only 54% of US respondents said they were always adequately protected.

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