Tips on Communicating with Your Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ASRM recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global threat that will have devastating effects on patients' family building plans. The threat of the virus, loss, and the uncertainty of future family building planning are compounded by the additional challenges of social isolation and the contagion of anxiety, fear, and panic.

Below are some useful recommendations from the Mental Health Professional Group for physicians in communicating with their patients.

  • Reach out to patients. This is very much appreciated by patients; some patients expect it; some patients are angry if they do not hear from their doctors.

  • Ask patients how they are doing. Inquire about patients’ daily lives: “Are you working from home? Are you alone? How is your extended family doing?"

  • Understand that some patients need to “vent” and “blame”.

  • Recognize with patients that “we are all in this together.”

  • Provide accurate information; solicit and answer questions; give patients resources and useful links for up-to-date information. (There are several good COVID-19 resources and articles for patients at ASRM's patient education website, www.ReproductiveFacts.org.)

  • Reassure patients: this will pass; we will get through this; we will be here to support you; we will resume operations as soon as possible.

  • Refer your patients to support groups and mental health professionals.

  • Stay connected: keep in touch with patients and do “check-ins."
Patient loyalty to doctors is often contingent on patients feeling that their doctors care about them as people, not just as patients.

Accept that physicians, used to knowing answers and being in charge, may have difficulty with loss of control, Remain vigilant about increasing self-care and seeking help when needed.

Contributed by Anne Malavé, Ph.D., MHPG Chair, 2019-2020
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National statistics from SART member clinics that reported their data through SART.