Psycho-emotional challenges experienced by COVID-19 infected healthcare workers: A phenomenological study

Idah Moyo, Livhuwani Tshivhase*, Azwihangwisi Helen Mavhandu-Mudzusi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had a negative impact on the psychological and mental wellbeing of healthcare workers. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the psychological and emotional challenges that healthcare workers experienced when they contracted COVID-19.An interpretative phenomenological approach was undertaken. In-depth interviews were used to collect data virtually from ten purposefully sampled healthcare workers.The findings of the study revealed that participants experienced negative emotions, overwhelming stress as a result of poor communication of COVID-19 results, self-blame in contracting the infection, fear of dying from COVID-19, infecting others, and reinfection. Furthermore, psychological distress related to uncertainty regarding COVID-19 infection/recovery, uncertainty worsened by lack of institutional support resulting in stress, confusion, shock and frustration. Lastly, stigma and discrimination related to COVID-19 infection were common experiences and were evidenced by rejection by colleagues, stigmatisation of families, and fear of disclosure of the positive COVID-19 results.In conclusion, emphasis is placed on providing comprehensive, differentiated psychosocial support to the healthcare workers who have contracted COVID-19 to enhance their mental wellbeing during and after the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2087827
JournalCogent Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • healthcare workers
  • phenomenological
  • psycho-emotional challenges


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