Sports Medicine Physician Decision-Making, Practice Changes, and Mental Health during the Early Phase of the SARS-CoV-2 Global Pandemic

Daniel M. Cushman, Masaru Teramoto, Ashwin Babu, Nathan Olafsen, Kentaro Onishi, Alexandra Asay, Zachary L. McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has had a profound effect on the healthcare system. This study aimed to identify its effects on sports medicine physicians during the early phase of this pandemic. Design: Survey study. Setting: Sports medicine providers. Participants: Physician members of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine were surveyed between March 25 and April 4, 2020. A total of 810 responses were obtained from 2437 physicians who viewed the survey. Interventions: The survey consisted of questions examining demographics, prepandemic practice patterns, anxiety and depression screening, and new beliefs and behaviors following government-based medical policy changes resulting from the pandemic. Main Outcome Measures: Changes in clinical volume and treatment practices, Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4). Results: The mean in-person clinic visits reduced to 17.9%, telephone visits to 24.4%, telemedicine (video) visits to 21.8%, and procedural visits to 13.8% of prepandemic practice volume. The mean PHQ-4 scores for physicians were 2.38 ± 2.40. Clinic and procedural volumes were reduced less by male physicians, as well as more experienced physicians, nonphysical medicine and rehabilitation training background, in government or private practice, and in the Southern region of the United States (P< 0.05). Physicians were more likely to reduce their anti-inflammatory (37.8% decreasing vs 6.8% increasing, P< 0.001) and opioid (10.5% vs 6.8%, P = 0.003) prescriptions rather than increase. Conclusions: During the early phase of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic sports medicine physicians reported reducing in-person evaluation, management, and procedure volume by over 80%. Multiple demographic and geographic factors were associated with practice volume changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Coronavirus
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Opioids
  • Telemedicine


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