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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Do Residents Living Alone Have Higher Levels of Depression, Anxiety and Stress During the Pandemic?

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Learning Objective: Understand how residents’ living situations and support structure might affect their wellness.

Background: EM residents are known to be high-risk for depression; in all likelihood the Covid-19 pandemic added to this risk. In addition to the understandable work stressors, social isolation caused by the lockdowns likely has affected their support structure.

Objectives: Using validated psychometric testing, we sought to determine the levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in EM residents in a region severely impacted by the pandemic. We hypothesized that residents living alone would have more depression, anxiety and stress than those living with family or other roommates.

Methods: Setting: An EM residency program in the state greatly affected by Covid-19. All EM residents were surveyed a year into the pandemic using the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scales (DASS). This scale has been validated in the psychology literature across multiple settings. Surveys were anonymous to promote honesty. Residents were also surveyed about their living situations and then separated into two groups based on whether they lived alone or with other people. Levels of depression, anxiety, and stress were determined for each group and compared. Differences between the groups and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated.

Results: 26 of 27 residents (96%) completed the survey. 12 residents lived by themselves and 16 residents lived with others. In terms of depression, the incidence was 58% for those living alone vs. 23% for those living with others (Difference -29%, CI: -69,11). In terms of anxiety, the incidence was 33% for those living alone vs 29% for those living with others (Difference -4%, CI: -43,35). In terms of stress, the incidence was 50% vs. 43% for those living with others (Difference -7%, CI:-49,35).

Conclusion: During the pandemic, the rates of depression, anxiety and stress in emergency residents as measured by the DASS are high overall, but with the small sample size no differences between those who live alone and those that live with others was shown.

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