A Study to Evaluate Depression and Perceived Stress Among Frontline Indian Doctors Combating the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Objective: Amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, health care workers of multiple disciplines have been designated as frontline doctors. This unforeseen situation has led to psychological problems among these health care workers. The objective of this study was to evaluate the mental health status of pan-Indian frontline doctors combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: A cross-sectional, observational study was conducted among frontline doctors of tertiary care hospitals in India (East: Kolkata, West Bengal; North: New Delhi; West: Nagpur, Maharashtra; and South: Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala) from May 23, 2020, to June 6, 2020. Doctors involved in clinical services in outpatient departments, designated COVID-19 wards, screening blocks, fever clinics, and intensive care units completed an online questionnaire. The 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire and the Perceived Stress Scale were used to assess depression and perceived stress.

Results: The results of 422 responses revealed a 63.5% and 45% prevalence of symptoms of depression and stress, respectively, among frontline COVID-19 doctors. Postgraduate trainees constituted the majority (45.5%) of the respondents. Moderately severe and severe depression was noted in 14.2% and 3.8% of the doctors, respectively. Moderate and severe stress was noted in 37.4% and 7.6% of participants, respectively. Multivariate regression analysis showed working ≥ 6 hours/day (adjusted odds ratio: 3.5; 95% CI, 1.9–6.3; P < .0001) to be a significant risk factor for moderate or severe perceived stress, while single relationship status (adjusted odds ratio: 2.9; 95% CI, 1.5–5.9; P = .002) and working ≥ 6 hours/day (adjusted odds ratio: 10.3; 95% CI, 4.3–24.6; P < .0001) significantly contributed to the development of moderate, moderately severe, or severe depression.

Conclusions: The pandemic has taken a serious toll on the physical and mental health of doctors, as evident from our study. Regular screening of medical personnel involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with COVID-19 should be conducted to evaluate for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2020;22(5):20m02716

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.20m02716