Working on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study of Physical Therapists’ Experience in Spain.
Phys Ther. 2021 Feb 01;:
Authors: Palacios-Ceña D, Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C, Palacios-Ceña M, de-la-Llave-Rincón AI, Florencio LL
OBJECTIVE: Knowledge of the experiences of health care professionals who have actively worked on the first line of the COVID-19 pandemic could help in identifying specific professional duties focused on health assistance objectives. No qualitative study has yet been published describing the experience of physical therapists during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this study was to describe and explore the experiences and perspectives of physical therapists working in public hospitals in Madrid, Spain, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: A qualitative exploratory study was conducted based on an interpretive framework. Thirty physical therapists working at 11 national public hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak were recruited by purposeful sampling and snowball techniques. In-depth interviews and researchers’ field notes were used to collect data. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify emerging themes.
RESULTS: After identifying 3912 codes and 13 categories, 3 themes emerged. First theme was “Call of Duty,” COVID-19 infection dramatically spread, the hospitals were contaminated and overwhelmed, and all floors were converted into COVID-19 wards. Second theme was “Working in War Time.” Every day, therapists were given “the war report,” receiving their orders, meeting protective personal equipment requirements, and doing a job with fear. Third theme was “When I Arrive at Home.” Working during the pandemic had an impact on the therapists’ families and the information shared with them.
CONCLUSIONS: Physical therapists described the COVID-19 outbreak as an apocalyptic and unexpected war. Comprehensive support is needed for all frontline health care professionals. The COVID-19 outbreak revealed that health care systems were not prepared for a pandemic.
IMPACT: This is the first qualitative study to be published describing the experience of physical therapists during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PMID: 33517462 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]