- Lisa Zak-Hunter, PhD, LMFT, Director of Behavioral Health, St. John's Family Medicine Residency, The University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
- David Humphreys, MSc, CF, FRSA, Consultant Systemic Family Psychotherapist, & Churchill Fellow, Independent Family Therapist & Clinical supervisor Stort Valley & Villages Primary Care Network. Clinical supervisor University of Exeter, United Kingdom
- Miyoung Yoon Hammer, PhD, LMFT, Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy, Fuller School of Psychology & Marriage and Family Therapy, Pasadena, CA
During the COVID 19 pandemic, there has been an unforeseen tension in the beliefs around the legitimacy of the virus and its mitigation and treatment methods in both the U.S. and the UK. Medical providers have been thrust at the forefront of what can feel like a battle between science and personal/family/cultural/political beliefs. As a result, an `us versus them’ mentality has arisen, making it challenging to maintain trust and faith in the doctor/patient relationship. At best, this challenge has been dealt with in mutually respectful `agree to disagree’ ways. At worst, it has caused significant rupture in these relationships, contributing to provider feelings of moral injury, burn-out, and anger. There is not yet much research data on this phenomenon, but it has been observed through both news outlets and anecdotally across healthcare systems. In the U.S., there is preliminary data indicating physicians and other frontline healthcare workers have experienced a significant increase in burnout, and as of Nov 2021, about 20% in the United States have quit healthcare. Similarly in the UK, although healthcare providers were clapped in the street and hailed as heroes early in the pandemic, political dynamics within the healthcare system as well as burnout due to overwork has resulted in 24% attrition of General Practitioners (PCPs) by middle of 2021. There are numerous reasons for this exodus, and challenges with patients and families who disagree on masking, vaccinations, and treatments are among them. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight and provide context of how disagreements over illness beliefs have impacted provider/patient-family relationships through personal accounts from frontline healthcare workers, explore how concepts related to power, control, and outside influence in these relationships have intensified during COVID 19, further contributing to relationship fracture, and discuss evidence-based emotional-regulation strategies that can help reduce conflict in relationships and promote resilience.
- Describe the impact of COVID on patient-practitioner and patient-family relationships.
- Increase awareness of the power/control dynamics related to COVID in the patient-practitioner and patient-family relationships.
- Identify practical skills to promote emotional regulation and reduce damage to relationships.