Exploring psychological issues faced by primary healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

05 Aug 2021
Clinical Research Results AimThe COVID-19 pandemic not only disrupted normal delivery of primary care but put the health of front-line staff at risk. We aimed to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on psychological stress and well-being of primary healthcare workers in Malaysia. MethodWe recruited primary care staff from public and private primary care clinics to a longitudinal qualitative study. Two semi-structured telephone interviews (3-4 weeks apart) were conducted with each participant to capture evolving experiences and views. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and translated to English for analysis. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data . ResultsA total of 21 participants; doctors (10), trained nurses (7) and clinic receptionists (4) were recruited. A sequence of three themes were identified (see Figure 1). In the context of the real risk of COVID-19, (1) stressors (such as changes that happened at their workplace, at home and in their lifestyle as a response to the pandemic) exerted opposing influences on (2) the emotional well-being of participants. Participants who perceived an increased personal risk of developing COVID-19 shared more negative emotions compared with those who did not. These reactions were (3) modified by internal factors like spirituality or external factors like social support and information that enabled participants to better cope with their emotions. Figure 1: Themes on psychological issues facing primary healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemicConclusionPrimary healthcare staff are front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and for some this results in significant psychological distress. Understanding the stressors and modifiers could enable appropriate support to be offered in the event of future waves of COVID (or other) pandemics. Implementation Science/Service Development Research Ideas on Respiratory Conditions and Tobacco Dependency Abstract Declaration of Interest This research was commissioned by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE), using UK Aid from the UK Government to support global health research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the UK Department of Health and Social Care. References and Clinical Trial Registry Information

Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • COVID-19
Type of resource
Dublin 2021
Adina Abdullah, Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Malaysia, Malaysia