Open J Psychiatry Allied Sci. 2021 Mar 1. Epub ahead of print.

An exploration of psychological distress and stigma in frontline workers amidst COVID-19 from Andhra Pradesh, India.

Das K, R BS, C MS.

Abstract

Background: Time has evidenced the impact of various pandemics on the human race, and specifically the impact on the healthcare workforce assigned to the forefront. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) brought in similar challenges across the globe, and also nationally. Mental health-related distress endured during these trying times in special forces remains an area of interest, but additionally we saw the reports of stigmatisation of healthcare workers working in COVID-19 areas. We aimed to explore the psychological distress and stigma faced by frontline workers in Andhra Pradesh, India. Materials and methods: Data was collected via specially designed Google survey forms, with a consent form and valid tools attached, namely the General Health Questionnaire-12 and a semi-structured questionnaire exploring stigma. Total of 321 nurses, interns, postgraduate trainees, and consultants working in COVID-19 were included in the study. Data was analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 with descriptive (percentage, mean, and standard deviation) and inferential (chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests) statistics. Results: Young, unmarried males who have done COVID-19 duties for seven days, majority serving in screening areas and having experienced COVID-19-like symptoms formed the larger sample. Younger age, unmarried, females, nursing staff were significantly found to have distress. Prevalence of stigma was noted with significant association of distress with anxiety over testing, discrimination for working in a COVID-19 centre, being afraid to reveal COVID-19-like symptoms, being disliked for living among family and friends post-quarantine. Conclusion: Majority were less than 30 years, unmarried, female who had significant association between psychological distress. Stigma was reported with association to psychological distress.

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