Original Research

Maternity healthcare providers’ self-perceptions of well-being during COVID-19: A survey in Tshwane Health District, South Africa

Sarie Oosthuizen, Anne-Marie Bergh, Antonella Silver, Refilwe Malatji, Vivian Mfolo, Tanita Botha
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3034 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3034 | © 2022 Sarie Oosthuizen, Anne-Marie Bergh, Antonella Silver, Refilwe Malatji, Vivian Mfolo, Tanita Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2021 | Published: 12 January 2022

About the author(s)

Sarie Oosthuizen, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Research Centre for Maternal, Fetal, Newborns and Child Health Care Strategies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, South African Medical Research Council, Research Unit for Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Anne-Marie Bergh, Research Centre for Maternal, Fetal, Newborns and Child Health Care Strategies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, South African Medical Research Council, Research Unit for Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Antonella Silver, Child Health Care Strategies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, South African Medical Research Council, Research Unit for Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Refilwe Malatji, District Clinical Specialist Team, Tshwane District Health Services, Tshwane, South Africa
Vivian Mfolo, District Clinical Specialist Team, Tshwane District Health Services, Tshwane, South Africa
Tanita Botha, Department of Statistics, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Mental health manifestations such as depression and anxiety disorders became more marked during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic as frontline healthcare workers struggled to maintain high-quality intrapartum care and essential health services.

Aim: This study aimed to identify maternity healthcare providers’ self-perceptions of changes in their feelings of mental well-being.

Setting: Ten midwife obstetric units and the labour wards of four district hospitals in Tshwane Health District, South Africa.

Methods: We conducted an anonymous, cross-sectional survey amongst a convenience sample of 114 maternity healthcare workers to gauge the changes in healthcare workers’ experience and perceptions of well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Four items measured the perceived changes on a scale of 0–10 for the periods before and during COVID-19, respectively, namely feelings of fear or anxiety, stress, depression and anger.

Results: The majority of participants were professional nurses (37%) and advanced midwives (47%). They reported a significant change in well-being from before the pandemic to during the pandemic with regard to all four items (p < 0.0001). The biggest ‘before-during’ difference was in perceptions of fear or anxiety and the smallest difference was in perceptions of anger. A framework was constructed from the open-ended responses to explain healthcare workers’ understanding and perceptions of increased negative feelings regarding their mental well-being.

Conclusion: The observed trends in the changes in healthcare workers’ self-perceptions of their mental well-being highlight the need for further planning to build resilient frontline healthcare workers and provide them with ongoing mental health support and improved communication pathways.


Keywords

COVID-19; maternity healthcare workers; mental health; support; fear; anxiety; stress; depression; anger

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