Effects of covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of female Family Doctors

Maria Bakola, Konstantina Soultana Kitsou, Eleni Jelastopulu

Keywords: Female Family Doctors, Mental Health, Covid-19

Family doctors (FDs), always on the frontline, took the lead in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by examining, monitoring and giving the necessary treatment in primary health centres, as well as in COVID-19 clinics in hospitals. Globally the female physician workforce increases and the percentage in family medicine is higher, making the tension between career and family more prominent. For many female FDs, balancing the multiple roles of doctor, mother and spouse can be challenging. For some, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this, making them more vulnerable to problems with their mental health.

Research questions:
What are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of female FDs in different European countries?
Do female FDs experience dysfunctional coronavirus related anxiety?
Do female FDs experience dysfunctional thinking about COVID-19?
Do female FDs experience reassurance-seeking behaviors associated with concerns over coronavirus infection?

A quantitative study using an online questionnaire will be developed by the authors, based on the Corona Anxiety Scale (ACS), the Obsession with COVID-19 Scale (OCS) and the Coronavirus Reassurance-Seeking Behaviors Scale (CRBS). The questionnaire will be developed after discussion between the research team, using previous surveys addressing a similar study. The survey questions will then be discussed with colleagues and within the project team, and piloted by FDs outside the project team.
The study population will include FDs from WONCA Europe member countries, using convenience sampling through WONCA social media platforms and European FDs’ societies and networks. We will aim for 30 to 50 participants from each participating country.

This is a project proposal.
Our hypothesis is that female FDs experience effects of COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health.

Identifying the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of the European female family doctor workforce will allow us to develop strategies to support them.

Points for discussion:
What other areas should we include in the questionnaire? Should we also survey male family doctors, so that we can assess the effect of gender?

Should we include a personality test? Should we also survey other primary healthcare workers?

Are EGPRN colleagues from other countries interested in joining this project?