The psychological impact of COVID-19 on frontline doctors in Tshwane public hospitals

South African Family Practice

Field Value
Title The psychological impact of COVID-19 on frontline doctors in Tshwane public hospitals
Creator Duffton, Juliet D. Heystek, Marthinus J. Engelbrecht, Andreas Rajan, Suma Du Toit, Renier A.
Subject Family medicine, Emergency medicine, Internal medicine burnout; depression; anxiety; stress; somatic symptoms; psychological; COVID-19; doctors; frontline; South Africa; pandemic
Description Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic placed immense pressure on frontline doctors. Burnout is a psychological syndrome that develops in response to chronic work stress. It consists of emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalisation (DP) and reduced personal accomplishment (PA). Burnout is associated with personal dysfunction and compromises the work profession and patient safety. International studies suggest burnout is exacerbated during a pandemic.Methods: We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional observational study. Respondents included frontline doctors working in emergency medicine, family medicine and internal medicine during COVID-19 in Tshwane public hospitals. The survey included two validated questionnaires, the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21. The aim was to determine the prevalence and severity of burnout, psychological and somatic symptoms in frontline doctors.Results: Of the 163 participants, we found clinical burnout to be present in 58.9% (n = 96) and extreme burnout in 19.6% (n = 32). Moderate to extremely severe levels of stress, anxiety and depression were present in 55.1% (n = 90), 43.6% (n = 71) and 22.1% (n = 36) of participants, respectively. We found significant correlations between burnout and psychological symptoms. Increased levels of burnout, anxiety, depression and stress were found to be meaningfully associated with adverse somatic symptoms.Conclusion: Our study demonstrated an insufferably high prevalence of burnout and psychosomatic symptoms in frontline doctors during COVID-19. In the event of future pandemics, more measures should be taken to support frontline doctors.Contribution: Pandemic-associated burnout and its psychophysical consequences have not been studied in frontline doctors in South Africa.
Publisher AOSIS
Contributor Not applicable
Date 2023-12-22
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — Cross sectional, observational
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/safp.v65i1.5807
Source South African Family Practice; Vol 65, No 1 (2023): Part 4; 10 pages 2078-6204 2078-6190
Language eng
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Coverage Tshwane, South Africa November 2020 to June 2021 registered medical doctors working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic in public sector hospitals, Tshwane, South Africa. Doctors working in the departments of Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Critical Care
Rights Copyright (c) 2023 Juliet Denise Duffton, Marthinus Johannes Heystek, Andreas Engelbrecht, Suma Rajan, Renier du Toit