Mental health disorders among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey from three major hospitals in Kenya

Jasmit Shah, Aga Khan University
Aliza Monroe-Wise, Washington Seattle Campus, USA
Talib Zohray, California University of Science and Medicine, USA
Alphonce Nabiswa, Aga Khan University
Mohammed Said, Avenue Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Abdulaziz Abeid, Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Mohamed Ali Mohamed,5, Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Sood Mohamed, Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Sayed Karar, Aga Khan University


Background: COVID-19 is an international global health emergency and has posed a great challenge to mental well-being and resilience. Little is known about the mental health impact of COVID-19 among healthcare workers (HCWs) in sub-Saharan Africa or other low-resource settings.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study between August and November 2020 among HCWs recruited from three major hospitals in Kenya. The survey questionnaire consisted of six components: demographic and work title characteristics; information regarding care of patients with COVID-19; and symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress and burnout, measured using standardised questionnaires. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with mental health disorders.

Results: A total of 433 (65.2% response rate) individuals participated in the survey. Median age was 32.75 years, 58.4% were females and 68.8% were front-line workers. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress and burnout were reported in 53.6%, 44.3%, 41.1%, 31.0% and 45.8% of all participants, respectively. Front-line HCWs, females and doctors were at higher risk of mental health symptoms. Nearly half of participants reported inadequate resources or training to care for patients with COVID-19, and those in the government hospital were more likely to report mental health symptoms

Conclusions: This is among the first studies examining mental health outcomes among HCWs during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. Similar to other studies from around the world, HCWs directly involved with patients with COVID-19 reported higher rates of mental health symptoms. Mitigating strategies specific to Kenyan HCWs are urgently needed to help them cope with mental health symptoms during the pandemic.