Healthcare providers as patients: COVID-19 experience
There is compelling evidence for the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and earlier epidemics. However, fewer studies have examined the subjective meaning experience of healthcare providers who have survived COVID-19 as patients. This qualitative study aimed to understand further and describe the life experiences of healthcare providers who have survived COVID-19 as patients in Saudi Arabia. Data was collected using unstructured in-depth individual interviews among n = 10 healthcare providers from public hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Data were analyzed based on a phenomenological approach, which resulted in five themes: (i) physical and psychological signs and symptoms; (ii) self-healing, hiding pain, and family; (iii) fear of complications; (iv) disease stigma & long-term psychological outcomes; (v) emotional support, mental well-being & resignation. The overall synthesis showed that healthcare providers, as patients, experience the same difficulties and stressors as the general public. In some cases, these factors are even worse, as family members, colleagues, and employers develop a new type of stigma. Given the impact of social media and the flow of information of any type, more research is needed to examine the sources used to obtain information by the general public, whether these sources are reliable, and how the public can be taught to use only scientific data and not social data. Understanding the experience of healthcare providers as patients during the pandemic has allowed to look at the feelings and needs of people during illness from a new perspective. As expressed by participants, being a healthcare provider does not reduce the fear of the disease and does not mitigate its consequences in the form of stigmatization and isolation.
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