Physician burnout was already a growing problem, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse, according to a survey by Medscape. The survey queried more than 7,500 doctors from around the world, but the bulk of them — almost 5,000 — practice in the U.S.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of the U.S. physicians surveyed said the pandemic had intensified their sense of burnout. About half said they had personally treated patients with COVID-19. When asked about the sources of stress caused by the pandemic, some responders cited treating patients who were likely to die, and others cited being exposed to COVID-19 without being given the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). One-fifth of doctors in Spain and the United Kingdom said they had personally contracted COVID-19, while only 5-6% in the U.S., Germany, and Portugal said they had.
When asked about the ways they’re coping with the stress of the pandemic, 29% of U.S. doctors said they were eating more, 19% said they were drinking more alcohol, and 2% said they were taking more prescription stimulants and medications.
Among U.S. physicians, 46% reported increased loneliness; only Portugal and Brazil had higher rates.
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