Presentation Title: Longitudinal Emergency Medicine Provider Burnout and Wellness During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Author Name(s): Heather Kelker, MD; Kyle Yoder, MD; Paul Musey, MD; Madison Harris; Olivia Johnson; Brooke Henderson, MD; Punit Vyas; Elisa Sarmiento MS; Zachary Adams, PhD; Julie Welch, MD
Importance: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) aka COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences to society globally, affecting nearly every aspect of daily life. There is a paucity of research exploring emergency medicine (EM) and non-physician practitioner (NPP) burnout and well-being during a global pandemic.
Objective: The objective of the study is to assess the demographic characteristics, wellness, burnout, resilience, and ongoing needs of EM physicians and non-physician practitioners the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Design: Longitudinal prospective cohort survey study.
Setting: Ten academic and community emergency departments across the state of Indiana.
Participants: EM physicians and NPPs within the department of EM at Indiana University School of Medicine.
Main Outcomes and Measures: A 41-item questionnaire that was comprised of multiple choice, scaled rating and yes-no questions; and included several validated tools for assessing physician wellness (Well-Being Index), burnout (Physician Work Life Balance single burnout question), and resilience (Brief Resilience Scale).
Results: Concern for personal safety decreased from 85% (96/113) to 61% (40/65, p<0.001). Impacts on basic self-care declined from 66% (75/113) to 32% (21/65; p<0.001). Self-reported symptoms of stress, anxiety or fear was initially at 83% (94/113) but reduced to 66% (43/65; p=0.009) by the end of the study period. Additional work responsibilities steadily declined from 59% (67/113) to 34% (22/65; p=0.001). Reported strain on relationships and feelings of isolation affected more than half of survey respondents initially without significant change over the course of the study period. Physician wellness scores improved over the four-week period, but burnout symptoms did not significantly change.
Conclusions and Relevance: This survey of EM providers found that despite being a resilient group, the majority of frontline EM providers experienced stress, anxiety, fear, and concerns about personal safety due to COVID-19, with many at risk for burnout. The formation of a wellness taskforce, whose objective was to evaluate wellness and elicit actionable items during the early stages of the pandemic, may have contributed to the increases in reported wellness scores and may be a key strategy to improve provider well-being.