Covid caused major changes in the work-life environment of healthcare workers (HCWS) including excessive workload, extended time, erratic timimgs, separation from family, and inconvenient PPEs which have led to psychological impact on them, and raise the need for interventions at various levels, as per an ICMR study.
The Indian Council of Medical Research study, conducted on 967 participants across 10 sites – Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Noida, south Delhi, Pathanamthitta, Kasaragod (both Kerala), Chennai, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Kamrup (Assam) and East Khasi Hills (Meghalaya), covered six broad issues – work, family, societal, and individual related issues, coping mechanism, and suggesting the way forward.
The fear of infecting themselves experienced across all tiers of healthcare personnel with the constant exposure to Covid-infected individuals, as per the study. It found that the pandemic has brought out different expressions of the stigma that HCWs face with experiences of verbal and physical abuse reported to a large extent on social and print media platforms.
“Manifestations of stigma have been reported in India with doctors, and nurses being forced to vacate their premises and reports of physical violence on HCWs in many parts of the nation. This led to reported stress, anxiety, depression and sleep-related issues among HCWs,” the study said.
The study stressed that all HCWs at all levels involved in Covid-19 care service face various challenges in their work life and family life affecting their sense of well being in many distinct ways, and this calls for interventions comprising strategies and actions at structural, societal, and individual levels.
“There is a need to shift from the focus on provision of psychological services to need based interventions at the organisational levels,” it recommends.