COVID-19 and mental well-being of nurses in a tertiary facility in Kenya
Background: The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic is a global health emergency which has been shown to pose a great challenge to mental health, well-being and resilience of healthcare workers, especially nurses. Little is known on the impact of COVID-19 among nurses in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out between August and November 2020 among nurses recruited from the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi. The survey questionnaire consisted of six components- demographic and work title characteristics, information regarding care of COVID-19 patients, symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress and burnout, measured using standardized questionnaires. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with mental health disorders.
Results Of 255 nurses, 171 (67.1%) consented to complete the survey. The median age of the participants was 33.47 years, 70.2% were females and 60.8% were married. More than half, 64.9% were frontline workers directly engaged in COVID-19 care. Only 1.8% reported a prior history or diagnosis of any mental health disorder. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress, and burnout were reported in 45.9%, 48.2%, 37.0%, 28.8% and 47.9% of all nurses. Frontline nurses reported experiencing more moderate to severe symptoms of depression, distress and burnout. Furthermore, females reported more burnout as compared to males. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that after adjustment, working in the frontlines was an independent risk variable for depression and burnout.
Conclusion This is one of the few studies looking at mental health outcomes among nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. Similar to other studies from around the world, nurses directly involved with COVID-19 patients reported higher rates of mental health symptoms. Burnout threatens to exacerbate the pre-existing severe nursing workforce shortage in low-resource settings. Cost-effective and feasible mitigating strategies, geared to low-middle income countries, are urgently needed to help cope with mental health symptoms during such a pandemic.