Doctoring and mothering during the SARS-COV2 pandemic: Characteristics of physicians-mothers during COVID-19 and their impact on mental health

Ingrid Vargas-Huicochea, Shoshana Berenzon, Silvia Aracely Tafoya, Diana Patricia Guízar-Sánchez, Nora Kelsall, Ana Carolina Rodríguez-Machain, Atenea Lanz-Uribe

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17711/SM.0185-3325.2022.025

Abstract


Introduction. During COVID-19, health workers faced increased stress accentuated by gender roles, such as motherhood.

Objective. This study analyzed the characteristics of a group of physicians-mothers, its impact on mental health, and their experiences during this pandemic.

Method. Mixed methods study using an online survey to investigate sociodemographic, family, emotional, and professional aspects, in addition to the personal experience of 537 doctors-mothers during the first stage of COVID-19.

Results. Due to the pandemic, most of the participants changed their daily activities. The hours dedicated to professional work (HM = 5.08, p  <  .0001), childcare (HM = 3.74, p  <  .0001), and food planning and preparation (HM = -6.96, p  <  .0001) were increased, while the hours dedicated to physical exercise (MH = 8.67, p  <  .0001) and personal care (MH = 9.54, p  <  .0001) decreased. It has been pointed out that this pandemic has generated a lack of well-defined spaces, resulting in multitasking. Fear and guilt were two common words in the speeches of the participants. Fear of getting sick and dying, or fear of infecting their families. Guilt at feeling that they did not play a good role either as doctors or as mothers. Most common psychological symptoms were insomnia, sadness or discouragement, and constant worry or tension.

Discussion and conclusion. The pandemic evidenced and exacerbated both the disparities faced by these female doctors in the medical field, as well as the inequity in housework and home-care. The loss of boundaries between the public and the private showed the mothers-doctor struggling to reconcile their personal and professional life with substantial repercussions for their mental health.

Keywords


COVID-19; physician’s health; women-physicians; mothers-physicians; mental health

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References


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