Psychological Responses to Coronavirus Disease 2019 amongst Healthcare Workers in South Africa during the Pandemic

Kathryn Nel, Indiran Govender*, Mathews Katjene, Saraswathie Govender, Thembinkosi Mabila

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It is important to understand HCWs’ (healthcare workers) psychological responses to the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic as theare exposed to the virus on a daily basis. This study helps identify some of the challenges they face. Aim: The overall aim of the study was to investigate psychological responses to COVID-19, including vaccinations and stressors, amongst healthcarHCWs in South Africa during the pandemic. Setting: HCWs who worked in private and state hospitals and private practice in Tshwane, South Africa. Methods: A quantitative approach using a cross-sectional survey design was used. Several standardised and validated questionnaires were used in the surveincluding the Coronavirus-19 Fear Scale, the COVID-19-related stigma scale and the COVID-19 stress scale. A purposive sample (N=103) waanalysed using descriptive statistics and chi-square. Results: There were 103 completed questionnaires. Many (76% and 54%) either knew someone close who contracted COVID or died from COVID-19respectively. Most (58%) were in favour of being vaccinated. A significant proportion (42%; p= 0.009) of the HCWs felt uncomfortable whethinking about COVID. Physical reactions such as sweating, or a pounding heart were reported by 17% of the HCWs. A majority of the HCWdisagreed with any form of stigmatization of COVID-19. Most of the HCWs expressed a need for mental health support during the COVID-1pandemic. About three-quarters of the respondents expressed a need to talk to someone about their worries about COVID-19. Conclusion: Most of the respondents either knew someone who either contracted COVID-19 or died because of it. Many experienced anxiety symptoms whethinking about COVID-19. Many HCWs reported anxiety and stress symptoms such as insomnia, palpitations, sweating and difficultconcentrating. An overwhelming majority of the HCWs stated that people should not be discriminated against or stigmatized in any way because oCOVID-19. The majority of the HCWs expressed a need for psychological support during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 20% of the HCWwere against being vaccinated. This is worrisome as they are at high risk. The HCWs clearly expressed a need for more attention and supportowards their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere187494452212190
JournalOpen Public Health Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Anxiety symptoms
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Healthcare workers
  • Mental health
  • Psychological responses
  • Virus


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