The Psychological Experience Of Obstetric Patients And Health Care Workers After Implementation Of Universal SARS-CoV-2 Testing

Abstract [from journal]

Objective: This study was aimed to describe the hospitalization and early postpartum psychological experience for asymptomatic obstetric patients tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) as part of a universal testing program and report the impact of this program on labor and delivery health care workers' job satisfaction and workplace anxiety.

Study design: This is a cohort study of asymptomatic pregnant women who underwent SARS-CoV-2 testing between April 13, 2020 and April 26, 2020. Semistructured interviews were conducted via telephone at 1 and 2 weeks posthospitalization to assess maternal mental health. Depression screening was conducted using the patient health questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2). An online survey of labor and delivery health care workers assessed job satisfaction and job-related anxiety before and during the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as employees' subjective experience with universal testing. Patient and employee responses were analyzed for recurring themes.

Results: A total of 318 asymptomatic women underwent SARS-CoV-2 testing during this 2-week period. Six of the eight women (75%) who tested positive reported negative in-hospital experiences secondary to perceived lack of provider and partner support and neonatal separation after birth. Among the 310 women who tested negative, 34.4% of multiparous women reported increased postpartum anxiety compared with their prior deliveries due to concerns about infectious exposure in the hospital and lack of social support. Only 27.6% of women, tested negative, found their test result to be reassuring. Job satisfaction and job-related anxiety among health care workers were negatively affected. Universal testing was viewed favorably by the majority of health care workers despite concerns about delays or alterations in patient care and maternal and neonatal separation.

Conclusion: Universal testing for SARS-CoV-2 in obstetric units has mixed effects on maternal mental health but is viewed favorably by labor and delivery employees. Ongoing evaluation of new testing protocols is paramount to balance staff and patient safety with quality and equality of care.