Original Research

Psychological distress and PTSD among clinicians in Roma, Lesotho during the COVID-19 pandemic

Muila Kambulandu, Radiance M. Ogundipe, Mariel Bryden, Lebohang Sao, Dave M. Thompson, Chelsea M. McGuire, Brian W. Jack
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 1| a5785 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5785 | © 2024 Muila Kambulandu, Radiance M. Ogundipe, Mariel Bryden, Lebohang Sao, Dave M. Thompson, Chelsea M. McGuire, Brian W. Jack | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2023 | Published: 29 February 2024

About the author(s)

Muila Kambulandu, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Family Medicine, Lesotho Boston Health Alliance, Leribe, Lesotho
Radiance M. Ogundipe, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Family Medicine, Lesotho Boston Health Alliance, Leribe, Lesotho
Mariel Bryden, Family Medicine Specialty Training Program, Lesotho Boston Health Alliance, Leribe, Lesotho
Lebohang Sao, Government of Lesotho, Ministry of Health, Butha Buthe, Lesotho
Dave M. Thompson, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, United States
Chelsea M. McGuire, Department of Family Medicine, Lesotho Boston Health Alliance, Leribe, Lesotho; and, Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, United States
Brian W. Jack, Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, United States of America; and, Lesotho Boston Health Alliance, Maseru, Lesotho

Abstract

Background: Since 2020, the world has been battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The mortality and morbidity at the height of the pandemic sparked generalised fear and uncertainty about the future. Concerns were raised about the psychological impact of the pandemic on workers in healthcare systems globally. This study was conducted to establish the degree of psychological impact of the pandemic on frontline health workers in Lesotho.

Methods: The study used a quantitative cross-sectional survey design. The Kessler psychological distress screening tool (K-10) and the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) checklist for civilians (PCL-C) were administered to screen for psychological distress among clinical staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Roma and its four Health Centres. Additional open- and closed-ended questions were added for context. Data were analysed using Fisher’s exact tests, Pearson chi-square tests and correlation studies.

Results: Of the 101 participants, 42 (41.6%) scored ≥ 24 on the K-10 scale (95% CI: 32.0% – 51.2%) indicating moderate to severe psychological distress and 32 (31.7%) scored ≥ 50 on the PCL-C checklist suggesting severe PTSD (95% CI: 24.5% – 42.9%). High scores on the K-10 were found more among men than women (17 [37.8%] vs. 4 [7.1%]; p ≤ 0.001). Post-traumatic stress disorder was more in the younger age group (p ≤ 0.03), in those reporting anxiety (p = 0.005) and those with more co-morbidities (p ≤ 0.001).

Conclusion: This study revealed the grave psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline clinical health workers in Lesotho.

Contribution: These data will assist health leaders and policymakers to implement mental health support interventions for health workers in future.


Keywords

COVID-19; psychological distress; depression; anxiety; health workers; post-traumatic stress disorder; clinical staff

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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