Open J Psychiatry Allied Sci. 2022;13:21-5. doi: 10.5958/2394-2061.2022.00005.2. Epub 2022 Jan 29.
COVID-19-related stigma towards doctors in India: an online cross-sectional study.
Nukala S, Vinnakota A, Garapati VA, Singisetti S, Chilukuri S, Sanapala V, Nambaru LR.
Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to worry and panic in the minds of people all over the world. Consequently, doctors and other frontline healthcare workers have become a target of stigma in the society. In spite of the Indian government appreciating doctors and healthcare workers with gestures, such as an aerial floral salute and asking the citizens to maintain a positive attitude toward doctors, several people are looking down at doctors as probable virus carriers and treating them as a potential threat to the general public. Aims: To assess stigma and discrimination faced by doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic and their psychological wellbeing. Materials and methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted on doctors, with convenience sampling technique used to collect data. The study tools were presented in Google forms, and the link was circulated by an exponential non-discriminative snowballing method through doctors’ WhatsApp groups across several states of the country. The study tools included participant information sheet, informed consent form, sociodemographic proforma, a self-designed questionnaire related to stigma and discrimination, and the World Health Organization (Five) Well-Being Index (WHO-5). Results: Three hundred and fifty-six (69.94%) out of 509 doctors reported that they had experienced stigma from the society and their families. 95.5% doctors reported that they are proud of their profession despite experiencing stigma. 58.2% doctors reported that they have received appreciation from the society for their work. 5.6% doctors reported that stigma had a serious impact on their wellbeing. Conclusion: The study results show that majority of doctors are facing stigma and discrimination. Addressing stigma and discrimination faced by doctors and other frontline healthcare workers is significant in fighting this pandemic.
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