Dražen Begić, Anita Lauri Korajlija, Nataša Jokić-Begić
Research aim: The aim of this research is to compare health concerns and behaviours, as well as mental health indicators, among members of the general population and physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic in Croatia. Participants and methods: The research was conducted in March and April of 2020 with two samples. The sample of physicians consisted of 723 participants, most of whom were women (71.9%) aged between 26 and 81 years (M = 48.3; SD = 11.26). The sample from the general population included 780 participants, who were also predominantly women (72.7%) with an age range of 19 to 77 years (M = 40.2; SD = 12.27). All participants completed the COVID-19 Behaviour Questionnaire, the COVID-19 Care Scale and the Pandemic Care Scale. The CORE-YP and quality of life assessment were used as indicators of mental health. Results: In comparison to the general population, physicians demonstrate more pronounced concerns about COVID-19 and about the overall function of the health care system. They are less concerned about their own mental health, are not more psychologically distressed, nor do they have a poorer quality of life than the general population. However, physicians indicated more pronounced difficulty sleeping and were less inclined to talk about their difficulties, but had the impression of adequate social support and self-efficacy. Although there is no difference between physicians and the general population in terms of general levels of psychological distress, distress is significantly higher in both groups than during the period prior to the pandemic. Conclusions: While the pandemic has caused situation specific concerns among physicians, the degree of general anxiety and level of estimated quality of life are the same as that observed in the general population. Although the results from international research to date would lead one to expect that mental health among physicians during the pandemic would deteriorate, this was not confirmed by our results. One of the possible reasons for this finding is the favourable epidemiological situation in Croatia, which exhibited a linear increase in COVID-19 cases over the pandemic period.