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Systematic review protocol exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of general practitioners

By Laura Jefferson, Su Golder, Veronica Dale, Holly Essex, Elizabeth McHugh, Karen Bloor

Posted 07 Aug 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.05.21261627

Background Over recent years chronic stress and burnout have been reported by doctors working in general practice in the UK NHS and internationally. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed general practitioners working lives; adding potential pressures from avoiding infection and addressing pent-up demand for care, but also changing processes such as rapidly taking up remote consultations. To date, there has been a focus on exploring the impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of hospital clinicians. No registered systematic reviews currently focus on exploring the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of general practitioners. Aims and objectives To synthesise the current international evidence base exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and wellbeing of general practitioners, and which factors are associated with their reported mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. Methods In this paper we report a systematic review protocol, following PRISMA guidance. In our search strategy we will identify primary research studies or systematic reviews exploring the mental health and wellbeing of general practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic in four databases (MEDLINE, Embase, PsychInfo and Medrxiv) and Google Scholar. We will hand-search reference lists and grey literature. Two reviewers will undertake all stages including study selection, data extraction and quality assessment, with arbitration by a third reviewer where necessary. We will use standardised quality assessment tools to ensure transparency and reduce bias in quality assessment. Depending on the quality of included studies, we may undertake a sensitivity analysis by excluding studies from narrative synthesis that are rated as low quality using the checklists. We will describe the findings across studies using narrative thematic data synthesis, and if sufficiently homogenous data are identified, we will pool quantitative findings through meta-analysis.

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