The survey cycle has been carried out since April last year. Every three months, more than 800 medical workers throughout Latvian hospitals, Emergency Medical Service and family doctor's practices are interviewed.
"If we look at the fourth round of the study, which was conducted in March of this year, the highest proportion of depression and anxiety symptoms was for family doctors – over 50% had depression symptoms; in hospitals and NMPD around 40%," said RSU Psychosomatic Medical and Psychotherapy lecturer Laura Valaine, adding, that "it is a big proportion working on the brink of exhaustion and in constant anxiety."
The researchers note that the situation was most grim in February of this year when depression symptoms were experienced by 43% of doctors. 29% experienced anxiety.
Overload, extreme fatigue, and work on the edge of burnout mean that sometimes the doctor is not responsive and cannot provide the quality treatment the patient needs.
"Doctors themselves need help right now. If we talk to colleagues, then they say that they either had no vacation this year, or they went on vacation but after had to work shifts for their colleagues, so that the effect disappeared. And many doctors are really very exhausted,” said Professor Gunta Ancāne from RSU.
The hospital load forecast, which estimates 1,500 filled Covid-19 beds by the end of October, is a major concern for paramedics. At that point the pressure on medical staff will become unbearable.
In order to improve the psychological health of medics, researchers recommend thinking about the protection of medical practitioners. In order for medics to be able to do their work in high quality, there should be a sufficient number of staff in medical establishments, as well as a balance between work and rest.
If there is enough staff, medics will have the opportunity to rest, as well as attend psychotherapy or rehabilitation if needed. In reality, there are hundreds of medical vacancies on job search portals, looking for specialists, family doctors, nurses, and assistant staff alike.