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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has become a pandemic. Obstetricians and midwives, among other medical staff, are tackling COVID-19 and are under immense psychological stress.
We aimed to survey the mental health of non-infectious disease specialist staff, specifically obstetricians and midwives, working in officially designated hospitals treating patients with COVID-19.
A nationwide online survey was conducted from 7 March to 17 March 2020 investigating the mental health of obstetricians and midwives (who were not themselves infected with COVID-19) working in hospitals treating patients with COVID-19. We used the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) scale and the 7-item Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) to assess their symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia.
A total of 885 (41.6%), 609 (28.6%) and 729 (34.3%) obstetricians and midwives reported depression (PHQ-9 ≥ 5), anxiety (GAD-7 ≥ 5) and insomnia (ISI ≥ 8), respectively, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of whether or not they had direct contact with patients with COVID-19, obstetricians and midwives were more likely to report mild and moderate depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared with before the pandemic. Those who had direct contact with patients with COVID-19 were more likely to report depression and insomnia than those who did not. Those who had sufficient protective equipment or training were less likely to report depression, anxiety and insomnia than those who did not.
Our data suggest that non-infectious disease specialist staff have experienced varying, but increased levels of depression, anxiety and insomnia during this COVID-19 pandemic, which could be reduced by sufficient levels of protective equipment and occupational COVID-19 workplace training.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telemedicine as a way to reduce COVID-19 infections was noted and consequently deregulated. However, the degree of telemedicine regulation varies from country to country, which may alter the widespread use of telemedicine. This study aimed to clarify the telepsychiatry regulations for each collaborating country/region before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We used snowball sampling within a global network of international telepsychiatry experts. Thirty collaborators from 17 different countries/regions responded to a questionnaire on barriers to the use and implementation of telepsychiatric care, including policy factors such as regulations and reimbursement at the end of 2019 and as of May 2020.
Thirteen of 17 regions reported a relaxation of regulations due to the pandemic; consequently, all regions surveyed stated that telepsychiatry was now possible within their public healthcare systems. In some regions, restrictions on prescription medications allowed via telepsychiatry were eased, but in 11 of the 17 regions, there were still restrictions on prescribing medications via telepsychiatry. Lower insurance reimbursement amounts for telepsychiatry consultations v. in-person consultations were reevaluated in four regions, and consequently, in 15 regions telepsychiatry services were reimbursed at the same rate (or higher) than in-person consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our results confirm that, due to COVID-19, the majority of countries surveyed are altering telemedicine regulations that had previously restricted the spread of telemedicine. These findings provide information that could guide future policy and regulatory decisions, which facilitate greater scale and spread of telepsychiatry globally.
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