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Emotional distress, stress, anxiety, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early- to mid-career women in healthcare sciences research.

Bittar N, Cohee A, Bhamidipalli SS, Savoy A, Ismail HM. Emotional distress, stress, anxiety, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early- to mid-career women in healthcare sciences research. Journal of clinical and translational science. 2022 Jun 13; 6(1):e93.

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Objectives: The main objective of this study was to report stress and anxiety levels during the COVID-19 pandemic on early- to mid-career women researchers in healthcare sciences research and determine the associated factors. Methods: A 50-item self-administered internet questionnaire was developed using a mix of Likert-type scales and open-ended response questions. The survey was distributed June 10-August 3, 2020. Anxiety and stress as well as personal/family demands were assessed through validated measures (Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System [PROMIS]-Anxiety Short Form and Perceived Stress Scale [PSS]) and open-ended responses. Results: One hundred and fifty-one early-career women in healthcare sciences research completed the survey; mean respondent age was 37.3 ± 5.2 years; and all had a college degree or higher, 50.3% holding a PhD and 35.8% MD. Race and ethnicity were reported in 128; the majority were White (74.0%). One-third (31.2%) reported being "very much" concerned about reaching their research productivity goals and 30.1% were "very much" concerned about academic promotion and tenure. Fifty percent reported a "moderate" PROMIS anxiety score and 72.1% reported a "moderate" PSS score. For the open-ended responses, 65.6% reported a worry about their professional goals because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Major concerns revolved around finances, childcare, and job security. Conclusions: Throughout the pandemic, early- and mid-career women in healthcare sciences research have reported moderate to high overall stress, anxiety, and worries. These concerns appear related to household settings, additional responsibilities, financial concerns, and reduced research productivity. Institutions and funding agencies should take these concerns into consideration and offer support.

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