Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19

Mental health experiences of healthcare professionals during COVID-19

Lindsay J. Cook, Tasneem Hassem, Sumaya Laher, Tarique Variava, Enid Schutte
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1865 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1865 | © 2021 Lindsay J. Cook, Tasneem Hassem, Sumaya Laher, Tarique Variava, Enid Schutte | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 December 2020 | Published: 28 September 2021

About the author(s)

Lindsay J. Cook, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Tasneem Hassem, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sumaya Laher, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Tarique Variava, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Enid Schutte, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to fundamental changes in the workplace for many, particularly healthcare workers.

Research purpose: This study explored healthcare workers’ (ophthalmologists, nurses and support staff) experiences of anxiety, depression, burnout, resilience and coping strategies during lockdown Levels 2 and 3 in an Ophthalmic consulting practice and hospital in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: The increased workplace stress and vulnerability associated with working during the COVID-19 pandemic introduced an unprecedented level of risk for healthcare workers. Factors contributing to psychological distress must be identified and appropriately mitigated, to prevent dire human and economic costs.

Research approach/design and method: A survey was sent out at two separate times to a convenience sample of 31 and 15 healthcare workers respectively. The survey consisted of a demographics section, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Burnout Measure short-version, Brief Cope Inventory, Connor Davidson Resilience Inventory and six open-ended questions investigating personal health and support experiences during COVID-19. Descriptive analyses and thematic analysis were used for data analysis.

Main findings: The sample of healthcare workers experienced some degree of psychological distress, including anxiety, burnout and a lack of social support on both surveys. However, these symptoms were alleviated by personal factors, including positive coping mechanisms, high resilience and organisational support.

Practical/managerial implications: Healthcare facilities should consider in-house structures focusing on building resilience and positive coping mechanisms, whilst ensuring that workplace conditions are optimal for staff members.

Contribution/value-add: This study provides some insight into both the risk and protective factors experienced by health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Keywords

COVID-19; mental health; healthcare workers; resilience; coping styles; social support; anxiety; depression

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