The effects of COVID-19 on pediatric anesthesiologists: A survey of the members of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia

Rebecca D Margolis, Kim M Strupp, Abbie O Beacham, Myron Yaster, Thomas M Austin, Andrew W Macrae, Laura Diaz-Berenstain, Norah R Janosy
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2021 January 12

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the personal and professional lives of all healthcare workers. Anesthesiologists frequently perform virus-aerosolizing procedures, such as intubation and extubation, that place them at increased risk of infection. We sought to determine how the initial COVID-19 outbreak affected members of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) on both personal and professional levels. Specifically, we examined the potential effects of gender and age on personal stress, burnout, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression, assessed job satisfaction, and explored financial impact.

METHODS: After receiving approval from the SPA Committees for Research and Quality and Safety, and the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board, we emailed a questionnaire to all 3,245 SPA members. The survey included 22 questions related to well-being and 13 questions related to effects of COVID-19 on current and future practice, finances, retirement planning, academic time and productivity, and clinical and home responsibilities. To address low initial response rates and quantify nonresponse bias, we sent a shortened follow-up survey to a randomly selected subsample (n=100) of SPA members who did not respond to the initial survey. Response differences between the two cohorts were determined.

RESULTS: A total of 561 (17%) members responded to the initial questionnaire. Because of COVID-19, 21.7% of respondents said they would change their clinical responsibilities and 10.6% would decrease their professional working time. Women were more likely than men to anticipate a future COVID-19-related job change (OR = 1.92, 95% CI = 1.12 to 2.63, P = 0.011), perhaps because of increased home responsibilities (OR = 2.63, 95% CI = 1.74 to 4.00, P <0.001). Additionally, 14.2% of respondents planned to retire early and 11.9% planned to retire later. Women and non-whites had higher likelihoods of burnout on univariate analysis (OR = 1.75, 95% CI = 1.06 to 2.94, P = 0.026 and OR = 1.82, 95% CI = 1.08 to 3.04, P = 0.017, respectively) and 25.1% of all respondents felt socially isolated. In addition, both changes in retirement planning and future occupational planning were strongly associated with total job satisfaction scores (both P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the personal and professional lives of pediatric anesthesiologists, albeit not equally, as women and non-whites have been disproportionately impacted. The pandemic has significantly affected personal finances, home responsibilities, and retirement planning, reduced clinical and academic practice time and responsibilities, and increased feelings of social isolation, stress, burnout, and depression/anxiety.

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