Article Text

Original research
Psychosocial impact on frontline health and social care professionals in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative interview study
  1. Henry Aughterson,
  2. Alison R McKinlay,
  3. Daisy Fancourt,
  4. Alexandra Burton
  1. Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Henry Aughterson; henry.aughterson.14{at}ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Objectives To explore the psychosocial well-being of health and social care professionals working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design This was a qualitative study deploying in-depth, individual interviews, which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used for coding.

Participants This study involved 25 participants from a range of frontline professions in health and social care.

Setting Interviews were conducted over the phone or video call, depending on participant preference.

Results From the analysis, we identified 5 overarching themes: communication challenges, work-related stressors, support structures, personal growth and individual resilience. The participants expressed difficulties such as communication challenges and changing work conditions, but also positive factors such as increased team unity at work, and a greater reflection on what matters in life.

Conclusions This study provides evidence on the support needs of health and social care professionals amid continued and future disruptions caused by the pandemic. It also elucidates some of the successful strategies (such as mindfulness, hobbies, restricting news intake, virtual socialising activities) deployed by health and social care professionals that can support their resilience and well-being and be used to guide future interventions.

  • mental health
  • COVID-19
  • qualitative research
  • health policy
  • medical education & training
  • public health
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @henryaughterson

  • Contributors DF, AB and HA conceived the study and contributed to the study design. HA conducted all the interviews apart from 1, which AB conducted. HA coded all the transcriptions. ARMcK coded four transcripts for cross-checking purposes. HA wrote up the manuscript. All authors critically reviewed the manuscript and approved the final submission.

  • Funding This COVID-19 Social Study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation (WEL/FR-000022583), but the views expressed here are those of the authors. The study was also supported by the MARCH Mental Health Network funded by the Cross-Disciplinary Mental Health Network Plus initiative supported by UK Research and Innovation (ES/S002588/1), and by the Wellcome Trust (221400/Z/20/Z). DF was funded by the Wellcome Trust (205407/Z/16/Z).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was reviewed and approved by the UCL Ethics Committee (Project ID 14895/005).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Raw data are available in the form of participant quotations and the interview topic guide.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.