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Like soldiers on the front - a qualitative study understanding the frontline healthcare professionals' experience of treating and caring for patients with COVID-19

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BACKGROUND: While people in the societies must stay home to reduce spread of the newly discovered coronavirus, healthcare professionals do the exact opposite. For them the coronavirus is an enemy that should be defeated as a part of one's job. They do, however, also have a daily life with family while doing their work obligations. The purpose of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the frontline healthcare professionals' experience of balancing work life and family life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: A sample of 22 frontline healthcare professionals caring for patients with COVID-19 was included and interviewed individually from May to August 2020. Ricoeur's phenomenological hermeneutical philosophy inspired the methodology in this study.

RESULT: Frontline healthcare professionals treating and caring for patients with COVID-19 are, voluntarily or involuntarily, forced to be ready to change departments as well as being ready to face the unknown coronavirus. The frontline work leads to feelings of being abandoned among their families and friends due to the threat of bringing the infection home and spreading the virus. Although healthcare professionals are facing a working life filled with uncertainty and unpredictability impacting their family life, they express opposing feelings of being a part of something bigger.

CONCLUSIONS: The work life balance for these healthcare professionals is threatened by changes in professional responsibilities, working hours and shifts. Fear of bringing the infection home challenges them ethically and creates a distance between healthcare professionals and their families, leading to a conflict within the individual if their work on the frontline is worth it - or if it is a too high price to pay. Despite facing a working life filled with uncertainty and unpredictability the healthcare professionals are being a part of something bigger that contributes to a fighting spirit and professional pride outweighing the negative consequences; like being soldiers on the front.

Original languageEnglish
Article number666
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume21
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)666
ISSN1472-6963
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, Delivery of Health Care, Humans, Military Personnel, Pandemics, Patient Care, SARS-CoV-2, 2019-nCoV; COVID-19, Healthcare professionals, Ricoeur, Coronavirus, Work life balance, Qualitative study

ID: 66956554