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Before and During the First COVID-19 Surge: Work Conditions, Burnout, and Mental Health Among Resident Physicians in a Department of Psychiatry in the USA.

Agrawal A, De La Torre K, Cooper C, Flores J, Miotto K, Wells K, Bromley E, Yano EM, Heldt J, Castillo EG, DeBonis K. Before and During the First COVID-19 Surge: Work Conditions, Burnout, and Mental Health Among Resident Physicians in a Department of Psychiatry in the USA. Academic Psychiatry : The Journal of The American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and The Association For Academic Psychiatry. 2023 Aug 27.

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OBJECTIVE: Resident physicians are critical frontline workers during pandemics, and little is known about their health. The study examined occupational and mental health risks among US psychiatry residents before and during the first COVID-19 surge. METHODS: Longitudinal data were collected from a cohort of US psychiatry residents at one academic medical center in October 2019, before the pandemic, and April 2020 after the initiation of a state-level stay-at-home order. Primary outcome measures were psychological work empowerment, defined as one's self-efficacy towards their work role, and occupational burnout. A secondary outcome was mental health. In May and June 2020, resident engagement sessions were conducted to disseminate study findings and consider their implications. RESULTS: Fifty-seven out of 59 eligible residents participated in the study (97%). Half the study sample reported high burnout. From before to during the first COVID-19 surge, psychological work empowerment increased in the total sample (p = 0.03); and mental health worsened among junior residents (p = 0.004), not senior residents (p = 0.12). High emotional exhaustion and depersonalization were associated with worse mental health (p < 0.001). In engagement sessions, themes related to residents' work conditions, COVID-19, and racism emerged as potential explanations for survey findings. CONCLUSIONS: The study is exploratory and novel. During early COVID, psychiatry residents' well-being was impacted by occupational and societal factors. Postpandemic, there is a growing psychiatrist shortage and high demand for mental health services. The findings highlight the potential importance of physician wellness interventions focused on early career psychiatrists who were first responders during COVID.

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