The impact of the pandemic on the mental health of physicians is evident, reveals a survey commissioned by the College of Physicians and consulted by Press.
While COVID-19 has been shaking up the health network for more than a year, two-thirds of doctors believe that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their level of anxiety and on their mental health, according to the survey.
President of the College of Physicians, Dr Mauril Gaudreault says he wanted to survey his members to find out “how they had experienced this pandemic”.
If he is “not surprised” by the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of doctors, Dr Gaudreault emphasizes that these results will lead the College to “take action to see how best to support them”.
A total of 1,304 physicians responded to an online survey from the firm SOM from March 11 to 22. The College of Physicians represents just over 23,000 members.
Many to rub shoulders with death
The Dr Gaudreault was surprised to learn that 30% of doctors say they have witnessed the death of a patient with COVID-19. “It’s a situation that may have generated anxiety,” he says. Moreover, 73% of doctors who have witnessed the death of a patient with COVID-19 report a negative impact of the pandemic on their mental health, against only 62% for the others.
One-third of respondents said they had to go into segregation at some point in the past year. The average duration of isolation was 20 days.
Asked to cite five priority issues for the health network in the coming years, 75% of physicians cite access to mental health care as a priority. This priority is ahead of other topics such as access to a family doctor (65%), home care (56%), long-term care (45%) and improving lifestyle habits (52% ).
The Dr Gaudreault affirms that this issue is important for the College and for other professional orders, which want to be “involved” in the major issue of access to mental health care in Quebec.
Long live the mask
Doctors have also been called upon to comment on the effectiveness of health measures. According to them, wearing a mask (91%), restrictions on indoor public gatherings (81%) and the obligation to respect the 2m distance (73%) are by far the most effective measures to counter the virus. On the contrary, few of them name the closing of gyms and training rooms (10%), the closing of restaurants (16%) or color codes (17%) among the most effective measures.
Half of the doctors believe that the federal government “mismanaged” the pandemic, in particular because of the slowness in checking travelers and for the vaccination campaign. “Doctors have been through difficult things. It tints their criticism, ”says the Dr Gaudreault.
What lessons should we learn from the pandemic? Doctors believe that the province must above all better prepare for a future pandemic by purchasing, for example, enough protective equipment.
In recent weeks, the College of Physicians has publicly taken a position on certain issues related to the management of the pandemic. The Dr Gaudreault explains that the population and doctors have long criticized the College for being “too alone, too silent, too far”. The College will be less reluctant in the future to speak out publicly. “This is the new College! He said.
Patient attendants also in distress
A survey published Tuesday by the Federation of Health and Social Services (FSSS-CSN) reveals that 71% of beneficiary attendants and other health workers suffer from high psychological distress. In a similar survey conducted in 2018, only 54% of respondents were in the same situation. “The difference between the results of the two surveys is of great concern to us, it shows a marked deterioration in the psychological health of our members in the past year,” said Jeff Begley, president of the FSSS-CSN.