Experiences of patients with chronic diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic in the North West province, South Africa

S Afr Fam Pract (2004). 2023 Jun 29;65(1):e1-e10. doi: 10.4102/safp.v65i1.5643.


Background: Patients with chronic diseases (PWCDs) were severely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as they were prevented from making the necessary visits to health facilities for medical review and to collect their medication. The emergence of the health crisis and inadequate access to quality care affected chronic care management. The perspectives of PWCDs are not known, and therefore the research on which this paper is based sought to investigate the lived experiences of these patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: A qualitative phenomenological design was used to obtain the lived experiences of PWCDs identified for participation in the study by means of purposive sampling. Patients' experiences were obtained during individual structured interviews, and a checklist was used to gather patient characteristics from their files.

Results: Three themes emerged from the study findings, namely poor healthcare services, the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic had devastating effects on PWCDs, in that they experienced barriers to accessing quality chronic care services and suffered psychological and financial difficulties that affected their health, life, needs and expectations.

Conclusion: Policymakers should consider PWCDs when responding to a public health concern in the future.Contribution: The study findings may have an impact on future policies regulating the management of chronic diseases during epidemics, in order to improve patient health outcomes and satisfaction with healthcare services and the chronic care model based on the experiences of PWCDs.

Keywords: COVID-19; chronic disease, healthcare facilities; experiences; exploring; patients with chronic diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / psychology
  • Chronic Disease* / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Patients* / psychology
  • Patients* / statistics & numerical data
  • Qualitative Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Young Adult