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Article

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

1
Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
2
Health and Social Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
3
North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol BS10 5NB, UK
4
Trainee Emergency Research Network (TERN), Royal College of Emergency Medicine, London EC4A 1DT, UK
5
Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1UD, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13067; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413067
Received: 29 October 2021 / Revised: 30 November 2021 / Accepted: 1 December 2021 / Published: 10 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Workplace Health and Wellbeing during and beyond COVID-19)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; frontline workers; healthcare workers; qualitative research; moral injury COVID-19; frontline workers; healthcare workers; qualitative research; moral injury
MDPI and ACS Style

Harris, S.; Jenkinson, E.; Carlton, E.; Roberts, T.; Daniels, J. “It’s Been Ugly”: A Large-Scale Qualitative Study into the Difficulties Frontline Doctors Faced across Two Waves of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 13067. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413067

AMA Style

Harris S, Jenkinson E, Carlton E, Roberts T, Daniels J. “It’s Been Ugly”: A Large-Scale Qualitative Study into the Difficulties Frontline Doctors Faced across Two Waves of the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(24):13067. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413067

Chicago/Turabian Style

Harris, Sophie, Elizabeth Jenkinson, Edward Carlton, Tom Roberts, and Jo Daniels. 2021. "“It’s Been Ugly”: A Large-Scale Qualitative Study into the Difficulties Frontline Doctors Faced across Two Waves of the COVID-19 Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 24: 13067. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413067

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