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Open Journal of Psychiatry & Allied Sciences
Year : 2022, Volume : 13, Issue : 1
First page : ( 21) Last page : ( 25)
Print ISSN : 2394-2053. Online ISSN : 2394-2061.
Article DOI : 10.5958/2394-2061.2022.00005.2

COVID-19-related stigma towards doctors in India: An online cross-sectional study

Nukala Srikrishna1, Vinnakota Archana1,*, Garapati Venkata Abhilash1, Srinivas Singisetti1, Chilukuri Shvetha1, Sanapala Vidya1, Nambaru Lakshmana Rao2

1Department of Psychiatry, GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

2Maharaja Institute of Medical Sciences, Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, India

*Correspondence: Dr. Archana Vinnakota, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Doctors’ Quarters, Q. No. 407, GITAM University Campus, Rushikonda, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. PIN: 530045, vinnakotaarchana@gmail.com

Online published on 19 April, 2023.

Abstract

Background

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to worry and panic in the minds of people all over the world. Consequently, doctors and other frontline healthcare workers have become a target of stigma in the society. In spite of the Indian government appreciating doctors and healthcare workers with gestures, such as an aerial floral salute and asking the citizens to maintain a positive attitude toward doctors, several people are looking down at doctors as probable virus carriers and treating them as a potential threat to the general public.

Aims

To assess stigma and discrimination faced by doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic and their psychological wellbeing.

Materials and Methodology

A cross-sectional study was conducted on doctors, with convenience sampling technique used to collect data. The study tools were presented in Google forms, and the link was circulated by an exponential non-discriminative snowballing method through doctors’ WhatsApp groups across several states of the country. The study tools included participant information sheet, informed consent form, sociodemographic proforma, a self-designed questionnaire related to stigma and discrimination, and the World Health Organization (Five) Well-Being Index (WHO-5).

Results

Three hundred and fifty-six (69.94%) out of 509 doctors reported that they had experienced stigma from the society and their families. 95.5% doctors reported that they are proud of their profession despite experiencing stigma. 58.2% doctors reported that they have received appreciation from the society for their work. 5.6% doctors reported that stigma had a serious impact on their wellbeing.

Conclusion

The study results show that majority of doctors are facing stigma and discrimination. Addressing stigma and discrimination faced by doctors and other frontline healthcare workers is significant in fighting this pandemic.

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Keywords

Discrimination, Fear, Physician, Wellbeing, Healthcare.

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