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The study, building on the insights from the original 2016 Truth About Doctors study, highlights a pressing need to focus on caring for doctors and healthcare providers as a matter of public health urgency.

NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 24, 2021) – The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined what it means and what it takes to be a healthcare provider in a time of crisis. In a new study from McCann Health, the data from the original 2016 Truth About Doctors study has been re-examined and updated, highlighting the need to focus on prioritizing the health and wellbeing of physicians to ultimately help foster a healthier public.

What emerged are some key tensions: though health care providers have experienced a resurgence of gratitude, heralded as healthcare heroes and applauded nightly, their sense of achievement has decreased in being a doctor, treating patients, being a part of the healthcare system, and in themselves. When it comes to treating patients, physicians’ fear has doubled since 2016 from 12% to 24%, and joy in their profession has dropped from 35% to 21%. Regular exposure to unyielding death and suffering alongside public idolization fueled cognitive dissonance, driving many to question their ability to make an impact.

While the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the ongoing global trust recession, with 51% of people reporting that they have lost trust in government and politicians and 37% feeling similarly about mainstream media and social media, 41% of people globally report that their doctor has been among their most trusted resource throughout the pandemic.

Physicians’ sense of dutifulness has increased from 43% in 2016 to 62% 2020, renewing their sense of purpose, but they question how long that will last and how sustainable the current situation really is. The data reflects a heightened need for stability, up from 15% to 50% in 2020, driven by shortages of PPE and systemic failures that have left healthcare workers vulnerable on the frontlines all over the world.

Using McCann Health’s proprietary Empathy Engine™ tool, which uses natural language processing (NLP) to uncover implicit drivers of behavior, the original findings were evaluated to ascertain changes in attitudes, opinions and behaviors on the part of both consumers and doctors since 2016. These new tools tracked trends over time, pointing at new ways to engage and support health care providers.

“The data revealed the scale and scope of the emotional impact of COVID-19 for doctors,” said Daryl Somma, EVP, Executive Strategy Director, McCann Health New York. “Though that impact is profound, what also emerged were some silver linings, including the primacy of science and reinstatement of doctors as figures of authority.”

“In 2016 we uncovered that doctors were being relegated due to the democratization of information – people thought they could be a doctor with very little training and that the internet had all of the answers they needed,” said Hilary Gentile, global chief strategy officer, McCann Health and one of the study’s authors. “But what we’ve all realized in the past year is that doctors, as our pandemic compasses, are in command of crucial knowledge and counsel that goes far beyond what can simply be found online. More than ever, they are being viewed as indispensable, yet stuck in an unsustainable system.”

“Doctoring was on an alarming trajectory. In addition to bringing trauma, uncertainty and crisis, COVID-19 has also created a window of opportunity to rethink and reset that trajectory,” said John Cahill, Global CEO, McCann Health. “By identifying the trends over time, we can map a way forward for more meaningful engagement with our health care providers.”


About McCann Health

McCann Health, three-time Network of the Year winner at Cannes Lions Health and winner of an unprecedented twelve Network of the Year titles from the industry’s top five creative award shows, is one of the world’s most awarded global healthcare communications networks. Through combining science, creative and strategy we strive to deliver best-in-class services to our clients. Our 1,900+ employees in 60 offices across 20 countries and 6 continents are united by one vision: to help our clients play a meaningful role for healthier lives. McCann Health, spans a range of global practices including strategic consulting, healthcare professional marketing, medical communications, consumer health and wellness, global health and specialty practices like pharmacy, payer and patient engagement. McCann Health is a part of McCann Worldgroup and the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG), a global leader in modern marketing solutions.


About McCann Worldgroup
McCann Worldgroup, part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG), is a leading global marketing solutions network whose professionals are united across 100+ countries by a single vision: To help brands earn a meaningful role in people’s lives. McCann Worldgroup was named “Global Agency of The Year” by Adweek magazine, “Network of the Year” by the Cannes Lions, the world’s most creatively-effective marketing services company by the Effie Awards (for three consecutive years), “Global Network of the Year” by Campaign Magazine and “Network of The Year” by The Webby Awards. Fast Company named McCann Worldgroup to its list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies. The network comprises McCann (advertising), MRM (science/technology/relationship marketing), Momentum Worldwide (total brand experience), McCann Health (professional/dtc communications), CRAFT (production), Weber Shandwick (public relations) and FutureBrand (consulting/design).


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