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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.

Strengths and limitations of this study

This is the first study in the UK to interview both health and social care professionals working in a range of settings on their experiences working through COVID-19. This study used a strong theoretical approach to inform the topic guide, and one-to-one interviews allowed in-depth analysis of the psychosocial experiences of health and social care professionals, complementing the wider availability of quantitative evidence. We interviewed a wide range of professions, which provided breadth of experience but might limit the specificity of findings. Given the fluctuating nature of the pandemic, attitudes of health and social care professionals may change over time. This can be challenging to capture during a single interview, however we did ask questions on how their experience had progressed longitudinally. Our sample may have been biased towards people who had more free time to participate and so were coping better than others. However, our sample still described a number of stressful experiences during the pandemic, and it is also possible that workers who were frustrated or stressed wished to express their views.
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