Original Article

Perceptions, Coping Strategies, and Mental Health of Residents during COVID-19

Authors: Michael A. DeDonno, PhD, Allison H. Ferris, MD, Andreea Molnar, MD, Henry M. Haire, MD, Sachin S. Sule, MD, Charles H. Hennekens, MD, Sarah K. Wood, MD


Objectives: Since the inception of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the United States has been the leader in cases and deaths. Healthcare workers treating these severely ill patients are at risk of many deleterious consequences. Residents, in particular, may be affected by physical as well as psychological consequences. Because data are sparse on perceptions, coping strategies, and the mental health of residents during COVID-19, we explored these issues in survey data from a community-based academic program in the southeastern United States.

Methods: In May 2020, when US deaths from COVID-19 reached 100,000, we administered multiple-choice online anonymous surveys to assess resident perceptions, coping strategies, and self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. We used the COPE inventory to assess coping strategies and the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21 questionnaire.

Results: A total of 59 (41.3%) of 143 eligible residents completed the survey, 52 (88.1%) of whom believed that they were likely or very likely to become infected with COVID-19. If infected, 17 (28.8%) believed that their illness would be serious or very serious. The top three strategies to cope with COVID-19 included acceptance, self-distraction, and use of emotional support. With respect to depression, anxiety, and stress, all of the mean scores were in the normal range.

Conclusions: During COVID-19, residents in a southern community-based program with an academic affiliation reported effective coping strategies, predominantly acceptance, self-distraction, and use of emotional support. They reported concerns about becoming infected and, if they did, that their illness would likely be serious. Finally, they have not experienced depression, anxiety, or reported stress. The findings may be restricted in generalizability to a southern community-based program with an academic affiliation.
Posted in: Infectious Disease103

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Table 1. Reported scores of likelihood of getting COVID-19 or severity of symptoms by residency year, program, and sex

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Table 2. Reported scores of depression, anxiety, and stress by residency year

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Table 3. Reported scores of depression, anxiety, and stress by residency program

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Table 4. Reported scores of depression, anxiety, and stress by sex

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