Poll from the California Health Care Foundation provides views on COVID-19’s effects on providers on the frontline

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an unprecedented impact on the health care system, and on providers in general. To assess the impact of the pandemic on frontline providers, the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) conducted a statewide survey.


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The survey provides insights into the mental and emotional health of providers, exposure and concern about contracting COVID-19 at work, the public response to the virus, patient behavioral and mental health impacts, and a perception of when the pandemic will end.

This survey is the second in a three-part series of research assessing the COVID-19-related effects on health care providers. It was conducted among 1,202 doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and behavioral health specialists in California.

The survey found that providers give lukewarm to negative assessments of their workplace and personal morale, and positive reviews are down from the September 2020 survey. Six in 10 providers report that morale in their workplace is “fair” (40%) or poor (20%), while 39% see it as “excellent” (5%) or “good” (34%). In September, 47% reported “excellent” or “good” and 52% reported “fair” to “poor” morale.

They found providers were more positive in their assessment of their own morale, however. With 46% saying their morale is “excellent” (5%) or “good” (38%) and 54% say their morale is “fair” (38%) or poor (16%). However, providers are less positive in assessing their own morale compared to the September poll.


Figure courtesy of CHCF


However, half to two-thirds of health care providers reported that they feel emotionally drained, burned out, overworked and frustrated. Fifty-nine percent say they feel burned out from work and 57% say they feel overworked. 

Just over eight in 10 providers, or 83%, agree that not enough is being done to address the problems facing health care workers.

Nine out of 10 providers or 91% feel frustrated by the public’s behaviors and attitudes related to COVID-19. And 86% don’t believe that the public is doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.


Figure courtesy of CHCF


Providers are also concerned about contracting COVID-19 at work, with 73% saying they are at least “somewhat” concerned about contracting the virus. CHCF found that there is an increase in the intensity of concern among providers since the September survey.


Figure courtesy of CHCF


There is also an increase in patients experiencing behavioral and mental health impacts during the pandemic, with nine in 10 or 90% of providers reporting an increase in the number of patients experiencing these issues. Another 69% report seeing a “significant”(30%) or “small” (39%) increase in the use of drugs or alcohol in their patients.

Fifty-five percent of providers believe that the pandemic will come to an end within the next six months (12%) or between seven months to a year (43%). However, 35% see the end as being a year or two off and 3% believe it will take three to five years.


Figure courtesy of CHCF