Mental health of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 outbreak: A rapid scoping review to inform provincial guidelines in South Africa

S Afr Med J. 2020 Sep 30;110(10):1010-1019. doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i10.15022.


COVID-19 is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. The healthcare response to the pandemic depends upon a mentally and physically healthy workforce. Infectious disease outbreaks cause high psychosocial stress among healthcare workers, which may impact negatively on workplace functioning. To understand which mental health conditions may occur and which interventions could be considered, we conducted a rapid scoping review. Using a 2018 systematic review as the starting point, PubMed, Cochrane, Web of Science and MEDLINE databases were searched for any type of evidence published in English between 2014 and 2020 on mental health of healthcare workers exposed to infectious disease outbreaks; 19 primary studies and 13 opinion pieces were included. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health conditions were noted among healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 and other outbreaks. Although no effectiveness studies were identified, certain proposed interventions may be implemented by healthcare leaders. Further research is recommended.