Anxiety amongst physicians during COVID-19: cross-sectional study in Pakistan

BMC Public Health. 2021 Jan 11;21(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-10134-4.


Background: Ensuring safety and wellbeing of healthcare providers is crucial, particularly during times of a pandemic. In this study, we aim to identify the determinants of anxiety in physicians on duty in coronavirus wards or quarantine centers.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional quantitative survey with an additional qualitative item. Five constructs of workload, exhaustion, family strain, feeling of protection, and anxiety were measured using items from two validated tools. Modifications were made for regional relevance. Factor analysis was performed showing satisfactory Cronbach alpha results. Overall, 103 physicians completed the questionnaire.

Results: T-test results revealed significant associations between gender and anxiety. Structural equation modeling identified that high workload contributed to greater exhaustion (β = 0.41, R2 = 0.17, p < 0.001) and greater family strain (β = 0.47, R2 = 0.22, p < 0.001). Exhaustion (β = 0.17, p < 0.005), family strain (β = 0.34, p < 0.001), and feelings of protection (β = - 0.30, p < 0.001) significantly explained anxiety (R2 = 0.28). Qualitative findings further identified specific needs of physicians with regard to protective equipment, compensation, quarantine management, resource allocation, security and public support, governance improvement, and health sector development.

Conclusions: It is imperative to improve governmental and social support for physicians and other healthcare providers during the corona pandemic. Immediate attention is needed to reduce anxiety, workload, and family strain in frontline practitioners treating coronavirus patients, and to improve their (perceptions of) protection. This is a precondition for patient safety.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Healthcare; Medical doctor; Pandemic; Physician; Practitioner.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires