Is high childcare stress (CCS) associated with burnout, intent to reduce clinical hours, and intent to leave the job among US health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In this survey study, with 58 408 respondents conducted between April and December 2020, high CCS was associated with 80% greater odds of burnout in all health care workers.
These findings suggest there is an association between reporting high CCS and burnout, and programs to reduce CCS may be beneficial for workers and health systems.
Childcare stress (CCS) is high during the COVID-19 pandemic because of remote learning and fear of illness transmission in health care workers (HCWs). Associations between CCS and burnout, intent to reduce (ITR) hours, and intent to leave (ITL) are not known.
To determine associations between CCS, anxiety and depression, burnout, ITR in 1 year, and ITL in 2 years.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This survey study, Coping with COVID, a brief work-life and wellness survey of US HCWs, was conducted between April and December 2020, assessing CCS, burnout, anxiety, depression, workload, and work intentions. The survey was distributed to clinicians and staff in participating health care organizations with more than 100 physicians. Data were analyzed from October 2021 to May 2022.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The survey asked, “due to…COVID-19, I am experiencing concerns about childcare,” and the presence of CCS was considered as a score of 3 or 4 on a scale from 1, not at all, to 4, a great extent. The survey also asked about fear of exposure or transmission, anxiety, depression, workload, and single-item measures of burnout, ITR, and ITL.
In 208 organizations, 58 408 HCWs (15 766 physicians [26.9%], 11 409 nurses [19.5%], 39 218 women [67.1%], and 33 817 White participants [57.9%]) responded with a median organizational response rate of 32%. CCS was present in 21% (12 197 respondents) of HCWs. CCS was more frequent among racial and ethnic minority individuals and those not identifying race or ethnicity vs White respondents (5028 respondents [25.2%] vs 6356 respondents [18.8%]; P < .001; proportional difference, −7.1; 95% CI, −7.8 to −6.3) and among women vs men (8281 respondents [21.1%] vs 2573 respondents [17.9%]; odds ratio [OR], 1.22; 95% CI, 1.17 to 1.29). Those with CCS had 115% greater odds of anxiety or depression (OR, 2.15; 95% CI, 2.04-2.26; P < .001), and 80% greater odds of burnout (OR, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.70-1.90; P < .001) vs indidivuals without CCS. High CCS was associated with 91% greater odds of ITR (OR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.76 to 2.08; P < .001) and 28% greater odds of ITL (OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.17 to 1.40; P < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance
In this survey study, CCS was disproportionately described across different subgroups of HCWs and was associated with anxiety, depression, burnout, ITR, and ITL. Addressing CCS may improve HCWs’ quality of life and HCW retention and work participation.