Emotions in the Time of COVID-19: Affections and Impacts among the Spanish Primary Care Workforce
2. Materials and Methods
2.2. Data Collection
2.3. Data Analysis
2.4. Ethical Considerations
3.1. From “Infection” to “Affection”
3.1.1. Cleaning Rituals to Cope with Fear and Obsession
3.1.2. Confusion between Personal and Professional vs. Establishing Clear Boundaries
3.2. Affected, but Not Patients
3.2.1. Emotional, Not Physical, Affections
3.2.2. Ideological Shield: I Will Not Let This Affect Me
3.2.3. Emotional Self-Management
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Number of Professionals||Under or over 10 Years of Experience||Male/Female||With/Without Dependent Family Members||Rural/Urban Environment|
|Working in a primary care setting|
|Working as part of a team|
|Theme 3.1 From “Infection” to “Affection”|
Cleaning rituals to cope with fear and obsession
|I would leave with a feeling of being dirty, dirty with the virus... I felt dirty, but not with physical dirt—I made sure I did a really thorough cleansing, it was like another part of my job (UN-11, nurse).|
Ah, yes, it was a drama, arriving home—and my boyfriend was like, ‘Don’t touch me... Have a shower, like, wash your hair’, and you are like, I am going to turn bald. And then clean the door knobs, the food, the shopping, wash your clothes at 60 degrees (UM-28, general practitioner).
I moved out to be alone, I haven’t seen my mother for... I’m trying to explain to her: ‘Mother, I cannot hug you, I cannot kiss you’—without seeing my daughters and my grandson—I have a four-year-old grandson, he is gorgeous. Well, it has been ages. And that, too, makes you... (Focus Group 3).
Confusion between personal and professional vs. establishing clear boundaries
|We had to provide our personal phone numbers, so we could be sent people’s pictures to assess them (RN-22, nurse)|
I was working almost 12 h every day, or 13 (...) No time left. I took the computer, and the telephone from the practice because it has a mobile line, I took it home so I could phone and follow up with the patients... I would switch the computer off at midnight because there was not enough time, it was constant. And emotionally, well, it was hard, I could not sleep, I lost my appetite, the situation overwhelmed us—the emotional cost has been tremendous, I found it really difficult (UM-37, general practitioner).
I have become as involved as I had to, which was a lot, within the limits of the safety guidelines that we had—In that sense, I have not felt psychologically affected… perhaps because I have my tools… to control this kind of stress a bit—perhaps things that would have annoyed you a bit in the past now you would take no notice—situations that were not that important—when the clock strikes three, you leave it behind (UN-2, nursing manager)
|Theme 3.2. Affected, but not patients|
|Category 3. 2.1|
Emotional, not physical, affections
|My emotional state has been bad, a lot of anxiety, a feeling of becoming obsessive—I would wake up obsessed that I was getting infected. And then that psychotic, obsessive-compulsive state at work, assuming these incredible cleaning roles (RN-16 nurse).|
Physically I haven’t had any problem, but mentally it has been hard, really hard, a lot of fear, dread, anxiety, a lot of anxiety, and worrying about the same thing all day (RTE- 3, healthcare technician).
I have felt anxious myself, in fact once I was in my car, driving out of the garage, and I felt unable to go on. I had to phone my husband then: ‘I can’t get out of the garage, I can’t, I am going to crash...’ And he was like, ‘But stay, stay, and I went, ‘No, no, I can’t stay, there is somebody and, if I do not get there... it is 1.30 and I have to be there at 2 o’clock, imagine if I let her down, she’ll be getting a phone call to get there now’. And then, I was like, ‘No, it’s ok, it’s passed now’. It was just a moment and I got there, and that was that, it was easy (UF-31, physiotherapist).
We are not mentally or emotionally prepared, we were not prepared for this, and this is something that will leave a mark and it will be difficult to move forward—we have been on the front line—we have been overloaded at work and mentally, and it is unbearable (UM-27, general practitioner).
As a collective, I think we adopted a stance like hedgehogs, we put our spines on and did not want to see anybody in-person until we had the resources (URF-1, physiotherapist).
For me, it was awful. To the point that I considered quitting my job—even though I have been doing it for a long time. I felt that the way some centres and practices were organised put me at risk (UN-15, nurse).
|Category 3. 2.2.|
Ideological shield: I will not let this affect me
|On a psychological level... I had no problem at that level. I mean, this is what we have to do, this is what we have been studying for, this is what we have prepared for (UN-14, nurse).|
We are healthcare workers and that’s it, I think as a society we have turned rather soft, it was hard, for sure, it was a pandemic... So, let’s work (Focus Group 1).
I think we did what we usually do, this is a vocational profession, and we give our best without considering the consequences. This ‘best healthcare system in the world’, as some were calling it, is a system that relies in the courage and dedication of its workers—without sufficient support or resources (UM-26, general practitioner).
It’s made me feel professionally fulfilled—being able to help in a situation like this, being there during such a critical situation (UN-13, nurse).
|Category 3. 2.3.|
|I have managed it at home, with my husband, on my own, with my own resources, with my colleagues—we would talk, and cry, and get everything out of our systems, and then we would go home at ease (UN-15, nurse).|
The management provided—and the social worker at my practice—there were psychological support groups if you needed them, although I haven’t really needed them, and I don’t think any of my colleagues has used them—but we were given the opportunity, if we had the psychologists’ phone number, we could—with an email or a phone call, we could get in touch (UF-31, physiotherapist).
Until I got my holiday break I was taking sleeping pills. But still, I came in the mornings, I would leave in the evenings exhausted, and then I would recover and so—to be honest I haven’t been on leave at any time (...). And it’s like I have become used to it (UD-32, administrative staff).
Perhaps just talking to you will be like therapy, because I really cannot take any more—I do not use any because I don’t—confidentiality and all that (RM-21, general practitioner).
I thought I was doing better, until one day something made me snap and cry, that day I cried so much... And I was like, I am not really crying because my friend’s mum has died—although I really knew her and all that—I think I am letting go of all the accumulated tension... That scared me. I was like, this is not right, this is too much—in fact, afterwards I had an episode of stress... My family noticed it too (Focus Group 2).
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Pulido-Fuentes, M.; Flores-Martos, J.A.; Abad-González, L.; Navarta-Sánchez, M.V.; Valera-Oviedo, L.; Cipriano-Crespo, C. Emotions in the Time of COVID-19: Affections and Impacts among the Spanish Primary Care Workforce. Healthcare 2021, 9, 1723. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9121723
Pulido-Fuentes M, Flores-Martos JA, Abad-González L, Navarta-Sánchez MV, Valera-Oviedo L, Cipriano-Crespo C. Emotions in the Time of COVID-19: Affections and Impacts among the Spanish Primary Care Workforce. Healthcare. 2021; 9(12):1723. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9121723Chicago/Turabian Style
Pulido-Fuentes, Montserrat, Juan Antonio Flores-Martos, Luisa Abad-González, María Victoria Navarta-Sánchez, Laura Valera-Oviedo, and Carmen Cipriano-Crespo. 2021. "Emotions in the Time of COVID-19: Affections and Impacts among the Spanish Primary Care Workforce" Healthcare 9, no. 12: 1723. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9121723