Experiences on the frontline: Qualitative accounts of South African healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Health SA Gesondheid

Field Value
Title Experiences on the frontline: Qualitative accounts of South African healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
Creator Kazadi, Angela Watermeyer, Jennifer Besharati, Sahba
Subject Psychology; Qualitative Methods COVID-19; healthcare worker; mental health; qualitative; low-to-middle income country; lived-experience; South Africa
Description Background: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted people’s mental health significantly. Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) were arguably most affected, particularly in low-to-middle-income countries like South Africa. Understanding their experiences is important to inform interventions for social and psychological support for future pandemics.Aim: This study explored the experiences of frontline HCWs in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.Setting: The sample included HCWs from various professions and health sectors who worked with COVID-19 patients across South Africa.Methods: An exploratory descriptive qualitative design was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 frontline HCWs recruited via purposive sampling. Data were analysed using principles of inductive thematic analysis.Results: Four major themes were identified in the data: (1) Working during COVID-19 was an emotional rollercoaster; (2) Working during COVID-19 was physically and mentally exhausting; (3) Participants held negative attitudes towards the Department of Health; and (4) COVID-19 had a transformative impact on the daily life of HCWs.Conclusion: HCWs’ experiences were diverse and marked by contradictions. Limited psychological support and resources aggravated experiences. However, a positive narrative of hope and gratitude also resonated with participants. Qualitative methodologies provided depth and insights into the diverse realities of frontline HCWs.Contribution: This study provides significant insights into the experiences of a diverse group of frontline South African HCWs during COVID-19. It demonstrates a shift in the definition of a ‘frontline’ HCW and highlights the need for greater psychological support and individualised public health interventions during future pandemics.
Publisher AOSIS Publishing
Contributor N/A
Date 2024-03-15
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — Qualitative research
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/hsag.v29i0.2339
Source Health SA Gesondheid; Vol 29 (2024); 10 pages 2071-9736 1025-9848
Language eng
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https://hsag.co.za/index.php/hsag/article/view/2339/html https://hsag.co.za/index.php/hsag/article/view/2339/epub https://hsag.co.za/index.php/hsag/article/view/2339/xml https://hsag.co.za/index.php/hsag/article/view/2339/pdf
Coverage Africa, South Africa August to November 2021 Frontline healthcare workers
Rights Copyright (c) 2024 Angela Kazadi, Jennifer Watermeyer, Sahba Besharati https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0