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Healthcare Professionals Change Their Attitude Towards Self-Care After COVID-19

Doctor analyzing patient

According to a recent study in the journal, PLoS ONE, healthcare professionals are changing their attitudes towards self-care. The pandemic and other events of the last three years mean that more people are taking time out from their busy schedules to relax and play with their kids. 

The paper argues that the process began in early 2020 as the pandemic began to hit people and communities around the world, not just those in China. Medical professionals suddenly found themselves working around the clock, giving up their evenings and weekends to meet pressing needs. Public health officials worried that millions of people might die in a pandemic to rival the Spanish flu, setting up special hospitals and wards in anticipation of a wave of catastrophic morbidity and mortality. 

According to the study, professionals working in these sectors modified their expectations of what their jobs would be like, given the new reality. However, scientists didn’t have much information on how the shift influenced professionals’ attitudes and behaviors. Did it affect their capacity for self-care?

The Study

The study’s main aim was to discover how confident medical professionals felt about advocating for self-care and lifestyle changes. Covering more than 300 doctors, nurses, and social prescribers, the study asked professionals to complete various questionnaires and reviews to learn more about their state of mind. Researchers wanted to learn more about their views on permanence and change and wondered whether the pandemic had made people working in medicine feel less secure and grounded. 

In total, participants had to complete 27 survey questions and some were nominated for qualitative interviews. The researchers reporting in PLoS ONE then collected all the data they received and used thematic analysis techniques to learn more about the main issues affecting staff members. 

The implications of the study are profound for workforce development in healthcare. Trainers and other educational support workers in the field need to take into consideration the paper’s new results and how they affect the type of instruction workers need in the future. 

The main poll tried to investigate perceived hurdles to self-care. Researchers wanted to find out how hard medical practitioners believed it was to look after themselves, including questions about funding, being included in digital social groups, and how hard it was to communicate with other staff during the height of COVID-19. 


The study investigated the need for self-care practices during COVID-19. Respondents said that taking care of themselves had been important while the pandemic was ongoing, with many saying they increased efforts in light of the rapidly deteriorating global situation. 

The number of HCPs saying that self-care was essential for their wellbeing to their patients went from around half to more than 87 percent. Medical practitioners believed in the months following March 2020 that looking after themselves was more critical than ever before, and that they should collectively be doing more. 

Unfortunately, the study also identified significant barriers. For instance, 75% of medical professionals reported an unwillingness to take part in self-care activities. Many felt uncomfortable or didn’t want to engage in activities being recommended. 

A further 72% said that they lacked self-care understanding. They wanted to look after themselves better, but they weren’t sure how. 

A final 72% also said that they felt digitally excluded from their colleagues and that was driving their difficulties in looking after themselves. Many couldn’t reach out for help when they needed it. 

But while the barriers seemed high, the study also revealed that most practitioners believe resources are available for them to take care of themselves. More than three quarters said that they could administer self-care and carry it out effectively. 

COVID-19 also adjusted medical practitioners’ attitudes towards their patients’ self-care. Many began to see the importance of combining medicine with powerful lifestyle interventions. 

For instance, 87% said that they wanted more patients to engage in self-care themselves. Doctors shouldn’t have to guide them through the entire recovery process after an initial conversation. Patients should recover by themselves, using techniques they develop from their experiences. 


In conclusion, the researchers found that medical practitioners’ attitudes towards self-care evolved significantly during the pandemic. Professionals were much less likely to underrate the power of looking after oneself after the pandemic than before it. 

To prevent discounting the importance of self-care in the future, researchers recommended promoting knowledge and awareness among the medical community. Doctors should understand the resources available to them, and the evidence behind using them at scale. 

More education is necessary, the researchers concluded. But we may have just witnessed a paradigm shift.

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