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.
- Anesthesia/statistics & numerical data
- Critical Care/statistics & numerical data
- Cross-Sectional Studies
- Emergency Medicine/statistics & numerical data
- Middle Aged
- Occupational Stress/epidemiology
- Psychological Distress
- Surveys and Questionnaires
- United Kingdom/epidemiology
- Young Adult