They are worried about getting infected, and they are even more worried about infecting family members, according to the Society for Critical Care Medicine,of four professional organizations – the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and the SCCM – April 7-22, 2020.
Four items in the survey assessed respondents’ level of stress or concern on a scale of 1-10:
- Personal stress before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Personal stress as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
- Concern about personally being exposed to COVID-19.
- Concern about exposing family members to COVID-19.
Personal stress rose from a median of 3 before the pandemic to a current 8, a level that was equaled by personal concerns about being exposed and surpassed (10) by concerns about exposing family members, the SCCM reported in a blog post.
Most of the respondents “are taking special measures to limit the potential spread of the virus to their loved ones, including implementing a decontamination routine before interacting with families,” the SCCM wrote.
The most common strategy, employed by 72% of ICU clinicians, is changing clothes before/after work. Showering before joining family was mentioned by 64% of providers, followed by limiting contact until decontamination (57%) and using hand sanitizer before entering home (51%), the SCCM said.
More extreme measures included self-isolating within their homes (16%) and staying in alternative housing away from their families (12%), the SCCM said, based on data for 9,120 clinicians in the United States.
Most of the respondents (88%) reported having cared for a patient with confirmed or presumed COVID-19. Nurses made up the majority (91%) of the sample, which also included nurse practitioners and physician assistants (4.5%) and physicians (2.9%), as well as smaller numbers of respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and emergency medicine flight personnel.
The results of the survey “underline the personal sacrifices of critical care clinicians during the COVID-19 response and suggest the need to help them proactively manage stress,” the SCCM wrote.