Psychological distress among Iranian health-care providers exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a qualitative study

BMC Psychiatry. 2020 Oct 7;20(1):494. doi: 10.1186/s12888-020-02889-2.


Background: Novel corona virus, named COVID-19, has spread rapidly to other countries like Italy, Iran and South Korea and affected all people, especially health-care providers. Therefore, due to the rapid spread of the disease in Iran, the aim of the present study was to explore psychological distress experienced by Iranian health-care providers in the first few weeks of the corona virus outbreak.

Methods: The present qualitative study was conducted on 18 Iranian health-care providers exposed to COVID - 19 using a content analysis method. Purposeful sampling was used to select the participants and continued until data saturation was reached. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and then the qualitative data were analyzed through direct content analysis.

Results: By analyzing 236 primary codes, two main categories were extracted from the experiences of health-care providers during corona virus outbreak. The first category included Occupational demands with three sub-categories: nature of illness, Organizational demands and social demands. The second category was Supportive resources included personal support and social support.

Conclusions: The results of this study found that there were some barriers and challenges to medical personnel exposed to COVID-19 that caused psychological distress. Some of these problems related to the nature of illness, others related to social and organizational demands and some of supportive resources buffer the relationship between occupational demands and psychological distress.

Keywords: COVID − 19; Health-care providers; Iran; Psychological distress; Qualitative study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • Psychological Distress*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Young Adult