Mental health disorders among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey from three major hospitals in Kenya

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BMJ Open. 2021 Jun 9;11(6):e050316. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050316.


BACKGROUND: COVID-19 is an international global health emergency and has posed a great challenge to mental well-being and resilience. Little is known about the mental health impact of COVID-19 among healthcare workers (HCWs) in sub-Saharan Africa or other low-resource settings.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study between August and November 2020 among HCWs recruited from three major hospitals in Kenya. The survey questionnaire consisted of six components: demographic and work title characteristics; information regarding care of patients with COVID-19; and symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress and burnout, measured using standardised questionnaires. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with mental health disorders.

RESULTS: A total of 433 (65.2% response rate) individuals participated in the survey. Median age was 32.75 years, 58.4% were females and 68.8% were front-line workers. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress and burnout were reported in 53.6%, 44.3%, 41.1%, 31.0% and 45.8% of all participants, respectively. Front-line HCWs, females and doctors were at higher risk of mental health symptoms. Nearly half of participants reported inadequate resources or training to care for patients with COVID-19, and those in the government hospital were more likely to report mental health symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: This is among the first studies examining mental health outcomes among HCWs during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. Similar to other studies from around the world, HCWs directly involved with patients with COVID-19 reported higher rates of mental health symptoms. Mitigating strategies specific to Kenyan HCWs are urgently needed to help them cope with mental health symptoms during the pandemic.

PMID:34108174 | PMC:PMC8190985 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050316