By: 28 May 2020
Covid-19: spine surgeons exhibiting elevated anxiety and uncertainty for the future

A global survey examining the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare professionals has revealed “elevated anxiety and uncertainty for the future” among 902 participating spine surgeons.

Results from the survey were published in the Global Spine Journal. Of the 902 spine surgeons from seven regions across the globe who responded and underwent viral testing, 15.8% tested positive for Covid-19.

Testing likelihood was region-dependent and 7.2% said they would not disclose their infection to their patients.

Family health concerns were the greatest stressor globally (76%), with anxiety levels moderately high. Loss of income, clinical practice and current surgical management were region-dependent, whereby 50.4% indicated personal protective equipment were not adequate.

The study’s authors, led by Philip Louie of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and Dino Samartzis of Rush Medical College in Chicago, concluded that “more widespread active Covid-19 viral (and eventual antibody) testing is a crucial focus of multiple global entities at this time because these results will help plan for return to work protocols”.

“Overall, spine surgeons exhibited elevated anxiety and uncertainty for the future. The lower rates of testing and diagnosis among our cohort, compared with the general population, suggest surgeons’ knowledge of disease transmission and/or possible greater adherence to public health measures aimed at limiting exposure.”

The survey also revealed that some 82.3% of responding spine surgeons envision a change in their clinical practice as a result of Covid-19, with more than 33% of clinical practice now being conducted via telemedicine.

Research output and teaching/training impact was similar globally. Some 96.9% were interested in online medical education and 94.7% expressing a need for formal, international guidelines to manage Covid-19 patients.