Psychosocial impact on frontline health and social care professionals in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative interview study

BMJ Open. 2021 Feb 8;11(2):e047353. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047353.


Objectives: To explore the psychosocial well-being of health and social care professionals working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design: This was a qualitative study deploying in-depth, individual interviews, which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used for coding.

Participants: This study involved 25 participants from a range of frontline professions in health and social care.

Setting: Interviews were conducted over the phone or video call, depending on participant preference.

Results: From the analysis, we identified 5 overarching themes: communication challenges, work-related stressors, support structures, personal growth and individual resilience. The participants expressed difficulties such as communication challenges and changing work conditions, but also positive factors such as increased team unity at work, and a greater reflection on what matters in life.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence on the support needs of health and social care professionals amid continued and future disruptions caused by the pandemic. It also elucidates some of the successful strategies (such as mindfulness, hobbies, restricting news intake, virtual socialising activities) deployed by health and social care professionals that can support their resilience and well-being and be used to guide future interventions.

Keywords: COVID-19; health policy; medical education & training; mental health; public health; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Workers / psychology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology