COVID-19 pandemic had psychosocial impact on healthcare workers: ICMR study

New Delhi [India]: A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revealed that increase in the work volume and intensity, manifestations of stigma and additional responsibilities of healthcare workers (HCWs), who had to adapt to new protocols and adjust to the ‘new normality’ amid the COVID-19 pandemic, had a psychosocial impact on them.
According to the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, 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 from their premises and reports of physical violence on HCWs in many parts of the nation. This reported stress, anxiety, depression and sleep-related issues among HCWs,” the study stated.
The study findings point to the challenges at the organisational level which is reflected in the major changes in the working culture of HCWs who were ill-prepared for this change. The longer working hours with erratic timings resulted in sleep deprivation as well as unhealthy eating patterns.
“Staying away from their respective families and the families affected because of the long separation and the protocol measures of being involved in COVID-19 care duties. The fear of infecting their families was far higher than the fear of being infected themselves,” the study result stated.
The study was conducted on 967 participants across 10 sites – Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Mumbai (Maharashtra), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Noida (Uttar Pradesh), South Delhi, Pathanamthitta (Kerala), Kasaragod (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Kamrup (Assam) and East Khasi Hills (Meghalaya).
Out of these, 54 per cent of respondents were females and 46 per cent were males. The respondents were primarily in the age group between 20 and 40 years.

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