Original Research

Psycho-behavioral responses of Nigerian health workers to an initial human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus disease

Justus Onu, Tonia Onyeka, Ngozichukwu N. Unaogu, Alhassan D. Mohammed, Kehinde Okunade, Sunday Oriji, David Agom, Dorothy Ekewuba, Cajetan O. Alumona, Chidiebere P. Echieh, Adaeze Ozoagu
Journal of Public Health in Africa | Vol 13, No 1 | a356 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4081/jphia.2022.1856 | © 2024 Justus Onu, Tonia Onyeka, Ngozichukwu N. Unaogu, Alhassan D. Mohammed, Kehinde Okunade, Sunday Oriji, David Agom, Dorothy Ekewuba, Cajetan O. Alumona, Chidiebere P. Echieh, Adaeze Ozoagu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 April 2024 | Published: 24 May 2022

About the author(s)

Justus Onu, Department of Mental Health, College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria; and, EPAC Research Team, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Ituku-Ozalla Campus, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Tonia Onyeka, Department of Mental Health, College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria; and, EPAC Research Team, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Ituku-Ozalla Campus, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Ngozichukwu N. Unaogu, Department of Clinical Services, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria
Alhassan D. Mohammed, Department of Anaesthesia, College of Health Sciences, Bayero University/Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, Kano State, Nigeria
Kehinde Okunade, Oncology and Pathological Studies (OPS) Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos/ Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria
Sunday Oriji, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
David Agom, Department of Anaesthesia/Pain and Palliative Care Unit, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Ituku-Ozalla Campus, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria; and, School of Nursing and Health Education, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, United Kingdom
Dorothy Ekewuba, EPAC Research Team, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Ituku-Ozalla Campus, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria; and, Nursing Services Division, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Cajetan O. Alumona, EPAC Research Team; Oncology Pharmacy, Multidisciplinary Oncology Centre, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Chidiebere P. Echieh, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria
Adaeze Ozoagu, College of Medicine, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria

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Abstract

Previous pandemics have had significant impact on psychological well-being of front-line health care workers. Issues such as fear of contracting the disease, high workload as a result of high numbers of infected cases, increased job stress and unavailability of personal protective equipment have been implicated in development of psychological distress in this subset of individuals. The aim of the present paper is to describe psychobehavioral responses of health care workers and potential predictors of emotional response at onset of COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. Cross-sectional web-based survey and 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire (GAD-7) were administered anonymously to 444 respondents comprising various categories of frontline healthcare workers. Stepwise multiple linear regression was used to determine predictors of anxiety scores. Participants were mostly young adults (mean age 38 years), females (57%), living with a partner (78.2%) and medical doctors (56.8%). Restrictions in clinical activities and use of hand sanitizers were commonest precautionary behaviors. Commonest emotional responses were anger and despair (27.0% and 25.7%), respectively. About 42.8% had clinically significant anxiety symptoms with highest burden among nurses. Perception of likelihood of 2nd wave (p=0.03), self-preparedness (p=0.04), gender (p=0.01) and cadre (p=0.02) were significant predictors of emotional response of anxiety. Study findings highlighted diverse psychological reactions of health care workers with a large proportion screening positive for significant anxiety symptoms. This has implications for planning a comprehensive psychosocial response to COVID-19 pandemic and for future pandemics among frontline health care workers in lowresource settings.

Keywords

Frontline healthcare workers; precautionary behavior; emotional response; COVID 19 pandemic; Nigeria

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