Mental health and well-being of anaesthetists during the COVID-19 pandemic: a scoping review

Anaesthesia. 2022 Oct 31. doi: 10.1111/anae.15879. Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed substantial burdens on clinicians and there is a need to better understand the impact on mental health and well-being. This scoping review investigates the prevalence of mental health concerns in anaesthetists, risk and protective factors for mental well-being, and anaesthetists' pandemic-related concerns and support. We searched online databases for articles published between January 2020 and May 2022, using search terms related to: anaesthesia; burnout, well-being, mental health or stress; and COVID-19. We identified 20 articles comprising 19 different populations of anaesthetists (n = 8680) from 14 countries. Studies identified the prevalence of the following condition in anaesthetists: burnout (14-59%); stress (50-71%); anxiety (11-74%); depression (12-67%); post-traumatic stress (17-25%); psychological distress (52%); and insomnia (17-61%). Significant risk factors for poorer mental health included: direct COVID-19-related issues (fear of self and family exposure to infection; requirement for quarantine); practitioner health factors (insomnia; comorbidities); psychosocial factors (loneliness; isolation; perceived lack of support at home and work); demographic factors (female gender; non-white ethnicity; LGBTQIA+); and workplace factors (redeployment outside area of clinical practice; increased work effort; personal protective equipment shortages). Protective factors identified included: job satisfaction; perceived organisational justice; older age; and male sex. Anaesthetists' self-reported concerns related to: personal protective equipment; resource allocation; fear of infection; fear of financial loss; increased workload; and effective communication of protocols for patient treatment. Support from family, colleagues and hospital management was identified as an important coping mechanism. Findings from this review may support the design of interventions to enhance anaesthetists' psychological health during pandemic conditions and beyond. Future research should include consistent psychological outcome measures and rigorous experimental design beyond cross-sectional studies.

Keywords: COVID-19; mental health; pandemic; risk and protective factors; well-being.

Publication types

  • Review