Coronavirus: Physicians stressed by pandemic but keep working

August 31, 2020

More than half of respondent physicians are experiencing great stress as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The latest survey from the Primary Care Collaborative (PCC) and the Larry A. Green Center shows how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is increasing stress on primary care physicians.

In the survey of 636 primary care physicians from 47 states and Washington D.C., 56 percent of respondents say their levels of strain due to changes related to the pandemic are at either a four or a five on a five-point scale. The pressures most cited by respondents were:

  • Clinicians or staff being unable to work due to illness (47 percent)
  • Lack of staffing making it hard to meet patient needs (46 percent)
  • In-person patient visits are 30 to 50 percent lower than pre-pandemic (46 percent)

While there was much consternation about the viability of primary care practices when the pandemic began, 89 percent of respondents say they are confident in the ability of their practice to stay open for the next four weeks. Meanwhile 44 percent are currently receiving financial support through federal programs and despite the frustrations they’ve experienced throughout the pandemic, 66 percent say they are not considering leaving primary care, the survey says.

About a quarter, 24 percent, of clinicians said their practice has shut down quality initiatives, while 34 percent have cut back on the number of services they offer patients. An additional 34 percent have also reduced or cut educational training showing that the pandemic may be affecting the quality of care in some practices, according to the survey.

Despite these things, some practices are engaging the public health efforts outside of their walls as 41 percent report they are in regular contact with public health departments and 15 percent are assisting with contact tracing.