Maternal and newborn healthcare providers' work-related experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their physical, psychological, and economic impacts: Findings from a global online survey

Delphin Kolié, Aline Semaan, Louise-Tina Day, Thérèse Delvaux, Alexandre Delamou, Lenka Benova

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have substantial impacts on health systems globally. This study describes experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, and physical, psychological and economic impacts among maternal and newborn healthcare providers. We conducted a global online cross-sectional survey of maternal and newborn healthcare providers. Data collected between July and December 2020 included demographic characteristics, work-related experiences, and physical, psychological, and economic impacts of COVID-19. Descriptive statistics of quantitative data and content analysis of qualitative data were conducted. Findings were disaggregated by country income-level. We analysed responses from 1,191 maternal and newborn healthcare providers from 77 countries: middle-income 66%, high-income 27%, and low-income 7%. Most common cadres were nurses (31%), midwives/nurse-midwives (25%), and obstetricians/gynaecologists (21%). Quantitative and qualitative findings showed that 28% of respondents reported decreased workplace staffing levels following changes in staff-rotation (53%) and staff self-isolating after exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (35%); this led to spending less time with patients, possibly compromising care quality. Reported insufficient access to personal protective equipment (PPE) ranged from 12% for gloves to 32% for N-95 masks. Nonetheless, wearing PPE was tiresome, time-consuming, and presented potential communication barriers with patients. 58% of respondents reported higher stress levels, mainly related to lack of access to information or to rapidly changing guidelines. Respondents noted a negative financial impact-a decrease in income (70% among respondents from low-income countries) concurrently with increased personal expenditures (medical supplies, transportation, and PPE). Negative physical, psychological and economic impacts of COVID-19 on maternal and newborn healthcare providers were ongoing throughout 2020, especially in low-income countries. This can have severe consequences for provision and quality of essential care. There is need to increase focus on the implementation of interventions aiming to support healthcare providers, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries to protect essential health services from disruption.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0000602
JournalPLoS Global Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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