Anxiety – the body’s natural response to stress – is on the rise as COVID-19 continues to impact nearly every part of our lives. Not only are patients with pre-existing anxiety or stress disorders seeing these conditions heightened, many other patients are now experiencing the effects of COVID-19 on their mental health. The good news is that no one is going it alone, and there are ways to stave off these unwanted feelings.
We’ve collected some tips for talking to patients involved in a clinical trial, many of whom may have a pre-existing condition that designates them as “vulnerable.”
Proactively communicating the COVID-19 procedures your office has implemented can help set patients’ minds at ease. This may include updating your office’s voicemail message, posting the precautions on the website, and mentioning them on any appointment reminder calls or in written notifications. You may also reach out to offer virtual appointments if permitted by the study protocol.
Ask and listen.
No doubt COVID-19 is on the mind of every patient and caregiver you interact with these days. During appointments, discuss COVID-19’s impact on the patient and any caregivers, and be prepared to respond if follow-up is needed. Not only is this good patient-care practice, but it may also impact continued participation in the trial.
In addition to any sponsor-provided directions specifically related to changes to the trial caused by COVID-19, have resources on hand (such as those listed in the next section) in case anxiety or general concerns about COVID-19 are discussed.
Share these additional resources.
Here are some additional resources for learning more about stress related to COVID-19:
- Mental Health America’s COVID-19 information and resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Coping with Stress” page under the “Coronavirus Disease 2019” section of their website
- US Department of Health and Human Services’ list of free and confidential support.
This is a critical time for all patients – whether or not they’re experiencing anxiety. So the more you can communicate about expectations and changes due to COVID-19, the better. We’re all in this together – and reminding patients of this is important as well.
Have more questions about best practices for operations during the pandemic? Reach out.