“It’s Been Ugly”: A Large-Scale Qualitative Study into the Difficulties Frontline Doctors Faced across Two Waves of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sophie Harris, Elizabeth Jenkinson, Edward Carlton, Tom Roberts, Jo Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study aimed to gain an uncensored insight into the most difficult aspects of working as a frontline doctor across successive COVID-19 pandemic waves. Data collected by the parent study (CERA) was analysed using conventional content analysis. Participants comprised frontline doctors who worked in emergency, anaesthetic, and intensive care medicine in the UK and Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic (n = 1379). All seniority levels were represented, 42.8% of the sample were male, and 69.2% were white. Four themes were identified with nine respective categories (in parentheses): (1) I’m not a COVID hero, I’m COVID cannon fodder (exposed and unprotected, “a kick in the teeth”); (2) the relentlessness and pervasiveness of COVID (“no respite”, “shifting sands”); (3) the ugly truths of the frontline (“inhumane” care, complex team dynamics); (4) an overwhelmed system exacerbated by COVID (overstretched and under-resourced, constant changes and uncertainty, the added hinderance of infection control measures). Findings reflect the multifaceted challenges faced after successive pandemic waves; basic wellbeing needs continue to be neglected and the emotional impact is further pronounced. Steps are necessary to mitigate the repeated trauma exposure of frontline doctors as COVID-19 becomes endemic and health services attempt to recover with inevitable long-term sequelae.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13067
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Frontline workers
  • Healthcare workers
  • Moral injury
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '“It’s Been Ugly”: A Large-Scale Qualitative Study into the Difficulties Frontline Doctors Faced across Two Waves of the COVID-19 Pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this