Labor Impact of SARS-COV-2 pandemic on Argentinian rheumatologists
Santiago ScarafiaM.D - Rheumatologist.Hospital Municipal "San Cayetano", Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires. Argentina.[email protected]ORCID:orcid.org/0000-0003-1098-1976
María Victoria MartireM.D -RheumatologistInstituto Médico Platense, La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina[email protected]ORCID:orcid.org/0000-0001-6797-4553
Emilio BuschiazzoM.D -RheumatologistHospital Señor del Milagro, Salta, Argentina.[email protected]ORCID:-
César GrafM.D -RheumatologistSociedad Argentina de Reumatología, Paraná, Entre Rios, Argentina[email protected]ORCID:-
Rodrigo García-SalinasM.D -RheumatologistHospital Italiano La Plata, La Plata, Argentina[email protected]ORCID:orcid.org/0000-0002-5928-1092
Labor Impact of SARS-COV-2 pandemic on Argentinian rheumatologists
Introducción: el nuevo coronavirus SARS2-COV-2 tuvo un fuerte impacto en los trabajadores de la salud. El objetivo del presente estudio fue describir las condiciones laborales actuales de los reumatólogos argentinos. Métodos: Se realizó una encuesta voluntaria a miembros de la Sociedad Argentina de Reumatología durante el aislamiento preventivo obligatorio establecido en Argentina, estudio transversal y se realizó estadística descriptiva. Resultado: Se invitó a mil cuarenta y cuatro médicos registrados en SAR, solo 272 encuestas tuvieron datos completos. En total, el 96% de los médicos tuvo contacto virtual con los pacientes, el motivo de consulta más frecuente fue la prescripción de medicamentos (81,8%). Los médicos recibieron el pago de solo el 5% (RIC 0-40) de un gran número de consultas virtuales.
Noventa y cinco reumatólogos (34%) informaron algún tipo de cambio en sus funciones laborales y el 30% fueron asignados a la atención de pacientes COVID-19. Alrededor del 40% de la población del país vive en el área metropolitana de Buenos Aires (AMBA), donde se observan importantes diferencias con el resto de Argentina.
Conclusión: La pandemia afectó negativamente la situación laboral de los reumatólogos en Argentina.
Background: The novel coronavirus SARS2-COV-2 had a strong impact on healthcare workers. The objective of the present study was to describe the current work conditions of Argentinian rheumatologists. Methods: A voluntary survey was carried out by members of the Argentinian Society of Rheumatology during the mandatory preventive isolation established in Argentina, cross-sectional study, and descriptive statistic was made. Result: One thousand and forty-four physicians registered in SAR were invited, only 272 surveys have complete data. In total, 96% of the physicians had virtual contact with patients, the most frequent reason for consultation was the prescription of medication (81.8%). Physicians received payment for only 5% (RIC 0-40) of a large number of virtual consultations.
Ninety-five rheumatologists (34%) reported some kind of change in their work functions, and 30% were assigned to COVID-19 patient care. About 40% of the population of the country lives in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires (AMBA), where important differences are seen with the rest of Argentina.
Conclusion: The pandemic negatively impacted the employment status of rheumatologists in Argentina.
Antecedentes: O novo coronavírus SARS2-COV-2 teve um forte impacto nos profissionais de saúde. O objetivo do presente estudo foi descrever as condições atuais de trabalho dos reumatologistas argentinos. Métodos: Foi realizada uma pesquisa voluntária por membros da Sociedade Argentina de Reumatologia durante o isolamento preventivo obrigatório estabelecido na Argentina, estudo transversal e estatística descritiva. Resultado: Foram convidados mil e quarenta e quatro médicos cadastrados no SAR, apenas 272 inquéritos possuem dados completos. No total, 96% dos médicos tiveram contato virtual com os pacientes, o motivo mais frequente da consulta foi a prescrição de medicamentos (81,8%). Os médicos receberam pagamento por apenas 5% (RIC 0-40) de um grande número de consultas virtuais.
Noventa e cinco reumatologistas (34%) relataram algum tipo de mudança em suas funções de trabalho, e 30% foram designados para cuidar do paciente COVID-19. Cerca de 40% da população do país vive na área metropolitana de Buenos Aires (AMBA), onde se observam diferenças importantes com o resto da Argentina.
Conclusão: A pandemia impactou negativamente a situação de emprego dos reumatologistas na Argentina.
The novel coronavirus SARS2-COV-2 has precipitated the present outbreak of COVID-19 and the worldwide spread has had a strong impact on the general population and on healthcare workers (1). The objective of the present study was to describe the current work conditions and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Argentinian rheumatologists.
Material y Métodos
A voluntary survey, delivered by email, was carried out by members of the Argentinian Society of Rheumatology (SAR), during the mandatory preventive isolation established in Argentina by the national government (since March 18th, 2020). A 27-item survey was designed and developed by the authors. After a brief explanation, the physicians were invited to complete an anonymous online closed survey. For descriptive statistics, the Mann-Whitney or T-test were used for continuous variables and Fisher’s exact test or Chi2 for categorical ones. A p value< 0.05 was considered significant. The database was analyzed with STATA 14.
Statement of ethics and consent: This observational study was approved by an institutional ethics committee and was conducted in accordance with the current Helsinki declaration, the resolution 1480/11 of the local Health Ministry, and local regulations applicable to this type of study.
One thousand and forty-four physicians registered in SAR were invited. Responses were collected from April 22nd to May 22nd, 2020, (days: 34-64 of quarantine). For the analysis, only those that presented complete data were used amounting to 272 surveys. More than half of the subjects were women (65.59%) with a median age of 44 years (IQR 38-52) and 9.68% were trainees. Most of the rheumatologists (85.03%) live in big cities (over 100,000 h). Only 17 rheumatologists (6.09%) work exclusively in the public sector.
In total, 96% of the physicians had virtual contact with patients, mainly by WhatsApp (78.8%). The most frequent reason for consultation was the prescription of medication (81.8%) and although 90% (IQR 70-100) were able to obtain medications in digital format. More than half (52.7%) required a new virtual contact with their physicians for the same reason. Physicians received payment for only 5% (RIC 0-40) of a large number of virtual consultations. The physicians reported, on average of 65% (IQR 50-80) was the decrease in their monthly income.
Ninety-five rheumatologists (34%) reported some kind of change in their work functions, and 30% were assigned to COVID-19 patient care. A similar proportion saw a decrease in their workload, which was unilaterally decided by their employer. Nine of the rheumatologists lost at least one job in this period. Only 57.66% reported having adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Table 1 shows detailed data from the physicians and the responses to the survey.
About 40% of the population of the country lives in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires (AMBA), which concentrates the largest number of cases of patients with SARS2-COV-2 infection (at the time of conducting the survey and writing this report). Table 2 shows the differences between AMBA and the rest of Argentina.
We consider that the response percentage was low, and knowing that the heterogeneous Argentine health system, it is difficult to extrapolate to other Latin American countries, this being a weakness of the study. On the other hand, the differentiation in AMBA and the rest of Argentina is a strength, because we consider that they are the areas where there are the greatest differences in labour supply and development of the pandemic.
Discusión y Conclusión
It is possible that the economic impact of the Pandemic by the novel SARS-Co V-2 has been more profound in emerging countries, as is the case of several countries in Latin America (2).
The lack of safe and effective systems to provide virtual consultations means that rheumatology patients, from all other specialities and even in primary health care, have been unable to continue with the adequate follow-up of their chronic diseases (3). Many times, physicians have to use their personal devices (cell phone, computer) to maintain contact with their patients and reduce the negative impact that can be caused by the discontinuation of consultation and treatment and to give emotional support during the pandemic (4).
The quality of work and poor payment of physicians in Argentina appears to deeply deteriorate at the moment, and as it has been reported, there is a lack of adequate PPE to perform activities related to the pandemic (5).
Conflicto de intereses
No funding to declare.
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