DOI: 10.1155/2024/5294893 ISSN: 0966-0410

The Mental Health Toll: Medical Trainees Living with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Yael Mayer, Noga Shiffman, Shir Etgar, Ido Lurie, Tal Jarus
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Objectives. Throughout the world, medical trainees have experienced psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic due to substantial changes in their educational programs and COVID-19 patient care. When medical trainees live with a disability, their psychological distress may be exacerbated. This study aimed to explore how having a disability may be associated with an additional emotional toll for medical trainees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods. Participants in the study were 201 medical trainees (62 interns and 138 residents) and 147 medical attending physicians in various fields of medicine. Participants completed an online survey including the Fear of COVID-19 scale, the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale, and the Mental Health Continuum Scale measuring aspects of wellbeing, including emotional wellbeing, belonging, and sense of psychological meaning. Results. Disabled participants experienced higher levels of fear of COVID-19, depression, anxiety, stress, and lower levels of emotional wellbeing, sense of belonging, and psychological meaning compared to participants with no disabilities. Residents generally experienced higher stress levels and lower wellbeing levels than attendings. Residents living with disabilities were more prone to experience stress and fear of COVID-19, and residents and interns living with disabilities experienced higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress compared to their peers who live without disabilities and compared to attendings living with disabilities. Conclusions. Medical trainees living with disabilities were more prone to experience high levels of psychological distress and lower levels of wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to their peers without disabilities. Therefore, there is a need to address this emotional toll and provide support in medical education programs promoting trainees’ wellbeing, sense of belonging, and psychological meaning.

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