Risk Perception and Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic Among Healthcare Workers in Primary and Secondary Healthcare Settings in Qatar: A National Study

J Prim Care Community Health. 2021 Jan-Dec;12:21501327211039714. doi: 10.1177/21501327211039714.


Introduction: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, primary and secondary healthcare workers (HCWs) have faced unprecedented stress, jeopardizing their mental well-being.

Aims: To compare risk perception and psychological distress between primary and secondary HCWs.

Method: A cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted with HCWs in Qatar from April 5 to July 5, 2020. Psychological distress and risk perception were assessed using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, a perceived COVID-19 risk questionnaire, and a sociodemographic questionnaire.

Results: Of the 4417 participating HCWs, 3421 (90.3%) felt that their job increased their risk of COVID-19 exposure, 3759 (90.9%) accepted this as part of their job, and 3440 worried that this also increased the risk of exposure to their families. Moreover, 2911 (84.8%) believed that their employer would look after their needs if they contracted COVID-19. Moderate to severe psychological distress was present in 1346 (30.5%) HCWs. Primary HCWs were less likely to experience moderate to severe psychological distress than secondary HCWs (adjusted OR, 0.48; 95% CI 0.29-0.77, P = .003). Secondary HCWs who worked in COVID-19 designated areas had greater psychological distress.

Conclusions: HCWs' exposure to outbreaks has various psychological effects, which may have long-term consequences and affect their decision-making capacity. Strategies to enhance the mental well-being of HCWs exposed to COVID-19 should be introduced immediately.

Keywords: COVID-19; primary healthcare worker; psychological distress; risk perception; secondary healthcare worker.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Perception
  • Qatar / epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2