Psychological Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rural Physicians in Ontario: A Qualitative Study

Source avec lien : Healthcare, 10(3). 10.3390/healthcare10030455

Cette étude vise à comprendre les impacts psychologiques de la pandémie de COVID-19 sur les médecins de famille ruraux engagés dans une pratique de soins primaires à plein temps en Ontario et les facteurs de stress derrière les défis identifiés

Frontline rural physicians in Canada are vulnerable to the psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic considering their high pre-pandemic burnout rates as compared to their urban counterparts. This study aims to understand the psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural family physicians engaged in full-time primary care practice in Ontario and the stressors behind any identified challenges. Recruitment combined purposive, convenience, and snowball sampling. Twenty-five rural physicians participated in this study. Participants completed a questionnaire containing Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (depression), General Anxiety Disorder-2 (anxiety), and Perceived Stress Scale-4 (stress) screening as well as questions exploring self-reported perceptions of change in their mental health, followed by a semi-structured virtual interview. Quantitative data showed an overall increase in self-reported depression, anxiety, and stress levels. Thematic analysis revealed seven qualitative themes including the positive and negative psychological impacts on rural physicians, as well as the effects of increased workload, infection risk, limited resources, and strained personal relationships on the mental health of rural physicians. Coping techniques and experiences with physician wellness resources were also discussed. Recommendations include establishing a rapid locum supply system, ensuring rural representation at decision-making tables, and taking an organizational approach to support the mental health of rural physicians.

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