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A Multi-Site Survey Study on the Association Between the COVID-19 Pandemic and United States Anesthesiology Residents' Mental Health. Cureus 2023 Feb;15(2):e34782



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BACKGROUND:  At the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, anesthesiology residency programs were impacted differently due to various factors such as the local severity of COVID-19, exposure to patient suffering, and inability to complete rotations. We sought to investigate the impact of local-level pandemic severity on the well-being of anesthesiology residents.

METHODS:  This multi-site study surveyed postgraduate year two residents from 15 United States (US) anesthesiology programs using the Perceived Stress Scale, Mini-Z, Patient Health Questionnaire-9,WHO-5 Well-Being Index,and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support before the pandemic (baseline survey) and during the first COVID-19 surge (post survey).

RESULTS:  A total of 144 (65%) residents responded to the initial baseline survey; 73 (33%) responded to the post survey, and 49 (22%) completed both surveys. There was not a statistically significant difference in any well-being outcomes of participants between the surveys, nor was there a significant difference based on the severity of COVID-19 impact at the program's hospital. Male participants had higher perceived stress scores (β = 4.05, 95%CI: 0.42, 7.67, P = 0.03) and lower social support from family (β = -6.57, 95%CI: -11.64, -1.51, P = 0.01) at the post survey compared to female participants after controlling for baseline scores. Additionally, married participants or those with domestic partners reported higher perceived social support in the post survey (β = 5.79, 95%CI: -0.65, 12.23, P = 0.03).

CONCLUSION:  The local COVID-19 severity at a residency program did not disproportionately impact well-being scores among anesthesiology residents. Those most vulnerable to diminished well-being appeared to be male and single participants. As a result, targeted well-being interventions, including those aiming to increase social support, to higher-risk resident groups may be indicated. Future work is needed to assess the longstanding COVID-19 pandemic impacts on resident well-being.

Author List

Chen F, Isaak R, Afroze F, Mulaikal TA, Licatino LK, Ladlie B, Jain A, Willie C, Bairde E, Hayes BH, Carter T, Zisblatt L, Diachun C, Martin TW, Marshall JM, Huffmyer J, Hindle AK, Stahl DL, Liu Y, Martinelli SM


Chelsea Willie MD Associate Professor in the Anesthesiology department at Medical College of Wisconsin