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Professional roles and relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study among US clinicians.

Butler CR, Wong SPY, Vig EK, Neely CS, O'Hare AM. Professional roles and relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study among US clinicians. BMJ open. 2021 Mar 25; 11(3):e047782.

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed healthcare delivery in the USA, but there has been little empirical work describing the impact of these changes on clinicians. We conducted a study to address the following question: how has the pandemic impacted US clinicians'' professional roles and relationships? DESIGN: Inductive thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews. SETTING: Clinical settings across the USA in April and May of 2020. PARTICIPANTS: Clinicians with leadership and/or clinical roles during the COVID-19 pandemic. MEASURES: Emergent themes related to professional roles and relationships. RESULTS: Sixty-one clinicians participated in semi-structured interviews. Study participants were practising in 15 states across the USA, and the majority were White physicians from large academic centres. Three overlapping and inter-related themes emerged from qualitative analysis of interview transcripts: (1) disruption: boundaries between work and home life became blurred and professional identity and usual clinical roles were upended; (2) constructive adaptation: some clinicians were able to find new meaning in their work and described a spirit of collaboration, shared goals, open communication and mutual respect among colleagues; and (3) discord and estrangement: other clinicians felt alienated from their clinical roles and experienced demoralising work environments marked by division, value conflicts and mistrust. CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians encountered marked disruption of their professional roles, identities and relationships during the pandemic to which they and their colleagues responded in a range of different ways. Some described a spirit of collaboration and camaraderie, while others felt alienated by their new roles and experienced work environments marked by division, value conflicts and mistrust. Our findings highlight the importance of effective teamwork and efforts to support clinician well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.





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