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WHRY Funds Study on Psychological Resilience in COVID-19 Health Care Providers

October 14, 2020

Women’s Health Research at Yale announced funding for a new collaborative study with researchers at Mt. Sinai Medical Hospital in New York on the personal and professional stressors and coping strategies of frontline health care providers confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. With a focus on stressors and coping strategies at the intersection of gender and race, the goal of this project is to understand how best to promote resilience in different representative groups.

“We know that people cope with stress in different ways and that this varies by gender,” said WHRY Director Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D. “We need to know how this varies by gender and at the intersection of gender and race for health care providers who continue to work under the tremendous stress of this pandemic. The purpose of this effort is to advance resilience strategies that work for all groups of providers.”

With this year’s Wendy U. and Thomas C. Naratil Pioneer Award, Dr. Sarah Lowe, a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health, and Dr. Robert Pietrzak, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and of Public Health, will study providers treating COVID-19 patients to determine how they successfully maintain psychological resilience in the context of both occupational stress as well existing social and personal stressors.

The researchers have access to data obtained this spring from more than 2,500 health care providers caring for patients with COVID-19 at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Additional data are being collected at six and 12 months from the initial data collection to construct a longitudinal sample. A new state-of-the-art measure will be used to assess resilience in the context of ongoing stressors, and information will be analyzed to assess the influence of supports and coping strategies over time. The project will examine the role of gender and race in the process of experiencing and negotiating stressors and identify strategies that optimize psychological benefits.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having serious mental health consequences, including elevated rates of depression, anxiety, and acute stress reactions,” Dr. Lowe said. “The goal of the project is to identify modifiable targets — sensitive to gender and race — to promote resilience in at-risk health care providers.”

Submitted by Rick Harrison on October 14, 2020