TUESDAY, June 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Physicians in China experienced a significant increase in mental health symptoms and fear of violence and a decline in mood after the outbreak of COVID-19, according to a research letter published online June 1 in JAMA Network Open.

Weidong Li, M.D., Ph.D., from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and colleagues surveyed 726 resident physicians (64 percent women) from 12 Shanghai hospitals participating in the Intern Health Study in August 2019. The training physicians completed surveys regarding mental health two weeks before beginning residency and three months after starting a residency (before the COVID-19 outbreak) and at six months after starting a residency (during the COVID-19 outbreak).

The researchers found that for the 2019 to 2020 cohort, daily mood scores decreased statistically significantly between quarter 1 and quarter 2. Subscores for symptoms of depression and anxiety increased significantly during this period. Both fear of violence (odds ratio, 2.36) and observation of violence from patients or their families (odds ratio, 3.63) also increased significantly. For the previous cohort (2018 to 2019), there were no similar significant changes noted in mood, anxiety, or depressive symptoms or workplace violence status between quarter 1 and quarter 2.

“With most new cases now outside China, ensuring that physicians receive appropriate support and access to mental health services is increasingly imperative, for their own well-being, as well as that of their patients and the global community,” the authors write.

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