Association of Social Network Use With Increased Anxiety Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Anesthesiology, Intensive Care, and Emergency Medicine Teams: Cross-Sectional Web-Based Survey Study

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2020 Sep 24;8(9):e23153. doi: 10.2196/23153.


Background: Critical care teams are on the front line of managing the COVID-19 pandemic, which is stressful for members of these teams.

Objective: Our objective was to assess whether the use of social networks is associated with increased anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic among members of critical care teams.

Methods: We distributed a web-based survey to physicians, residents, registered and auxiliary nurses, and nurse anesthetists providing critical care (anesthesiology, intensive care, or emergency medicine) in several French hospitals. The survey evaluated the respondents' use of social networks, their sources of information on COVID-19, and their levels of anxiety and information regarding COVID-19 on analog scales from 0 to 10.

Results: We included 641 respondents in the final analysis; 553 (86.3%) used social networks, spending a median time of 60 minutes (IQR 30-90) per day on these networks. COVID-19-related anxiety was higher in social network users than in health care workers who did not use these networks (median 6, IQR 5-8 vs median 5, IQR 3-7) in univariate (P=.02) and multivariate (P<.001) analyses, with an average anxiety increase of 10% in social network users. Anxiety was higher among health care workers using social networks to obtain information on COVID-19 than among those using other sources (median 6, IQR 5-8 vs median 6, IQR 4-7; P=.04). Social network users considered that they were less informed about COVID-19 than those who did not use social networks (median 8, IQR 7-9 vs median 7, IQR 6-8; P<.01).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that social networks contribute to increased anxiety in critical care teams. To protect their mental health, critical care professionals should consider limiting their use of these networks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; anxiety; coronavirus disease 2019; emergency medicine, anesthesiology, critical care medicine; mental health; nurse; physician; social network.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesiology
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy
  • Critical Care
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Networking*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19