Document Type



Community Health Sciences; Psychiatry


Objective: To explore healthcare provider's perspectives and experiences of the barriers and facilitators to treat and manage COVID-19 cases.
Design and setting: We conducted an exploratory qualitative study using a purposive sampling approach, at a private tertiary care teaching hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. Study data were analysed manually using the conventional content analysis technique.
Participants: Key-informant interviews (KIIs) were conducted with senior management and hospital leadership and in-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted with front-line healthcare providers.
Results: A total of 31 interviews (KIIs=19; IDIs=12) were conducted, between April and May 2020. Three overarching themes emerged. The first was 'challenges faced by front-line healthcare providers working in COVID-19 wards. Healthcare workers experienced increased anxiety due to the fear of acquiring infection and transmitting it to their family members. They felt overwhelmed due to the exhaustive donning and doffing process, intense work and stigmatisation. The second theme was 'enablers supporting healthcare providers to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic'. Front liners pointed out several enabling factors that supported hospital staff including a safe hospital environment, adequate training, a strong system of information sharing and supportive management. The third theme was 'recommendations to support the healthcare workforce during the COVID-19 crisis'. Healthcare workers recommended measures to mitigate current challenges including providing risk allowance to front-line healthcare providers, preparing a backup health workforce, and establishing a platform to address the mental health needs of the healthcare providers.
Conclusion: This study provides an initial evidence base of healthcare providers' experiences of managing patients with COVID-19 in the early stage of the pandemic and highlights measures needed to address the encountered challenges. It offers lessons for hospitals in low-income and middle-income countries to ensure a safe working environment for front-line workers in their fight against COVID-19.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Open

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License