The covid-19 clinician cohort (Cocco) study: Empirically grounded recommendations for forward-facing psychological care of frontline doctors

Jo Daniels, Jenny Ingram, Anna Pease, Elaine Wainwright, Kate Beckett, Lalitha Iyadurai, Sophie Harris, Olivia Donnelly, Tom Roberts, Edward Carlton

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Abstract

This study aimed to develop empirically grounded recommendations and a coherent model of psychological care derived from the experiences and psychological care needs of COVID-19 frontline doctors, using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. Participants were UK frontline doctors specialising in Emergency Medicine, Anaesthetics, or Intensive Care (n = 31) purposively sampled for maximum variation on gender, specialty, ethnicity, and trauma-related dis-tress; most worked in ICU during the pandemic (71%). Four themes were derived: (1) ‘coping strategies’, participants used many, including exercise, mindfulness, and “wait until it gets really bad”; (2) ‘sources of support’, participants valued embedded psychological support, digital services, and informal conversations with colleagues or family, though there was little opportunity; (3) ‘organisational influences on wellbeing’, participants reported a love–hate relationship for concepts like ‘wellbeing’, seen as important but insulting when basic workplace needs were unmet; (4) ‘improving engagement with support’, analysis suggests we must reduce physical and psychological barriers to access and encourage leaders to model psychologically supportive behaviours. Doctors’ front-line COVID-19 working experiences shine a ‘spotlight’ on pre-existing problems such as lack of physical resources and access to psychological care. Empirically grounded recommendations and a model of incremental psychological care are presented for use in clinical services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9675
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Frontline workers
  • Guidelines
  • Healthcare workers
  • Occupational health
  • Psychological support
  • Qualitative research
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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