Document Type : Original Article


1 Respiratory Therapy Department, College of Applied Medical SciencesJeddah, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Research Office, King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

2 Respiratory Therapy Department, College of Applied Medical SciencesJeddah, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Research Office, King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Ministry of the National Guard - Health Affairs, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

3 Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration, Director, Center for Interprofessional Education in Health Sciences, GEM Fellow, Praxis Program of the Advanced Seminar on Mission, Center for Vocation and Servant, Leadership and The Center for Catholic Studies, Bernard J. Lonergan Institute 123 Metro Boulevard/Room 0432/ Nutley, NJ 07110, USA


BACKGROUND: Healthcare professionals have fought hard to restrain the COVID‑19 pandemic
by providing high‑quality care for their infected patients, but in doing so they have developed
fears of becoming sick and feelings of isolation and loneliness. The lived experience of respiratory
therapists (RTs) in Saudi Arabia who works with these infected patients needs further investigation.
The study sought to describe the experiences and coping strategies of Saudi RT managing patients
with COVID‑19.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study utilized qualitative research methods, specifically employing
a phenomenological research design. A total of 25 Saudi RT (RTs) who were in direct contact with
COVID‑19 patients were selected after they agreed to participate in this study. The study followed
a one‑on‑one semi‑structured interview process using the Zoom platform. This qualitative data
collection technique focuses on the participants’ lived experiences and feelings to discover shared
patterns. The data were analyzed via an inductive approach.
RESULTS: Six themes were found in the RT perceptions including stress while treating COVID
patients, managing the fear of catching of Covid 19, feelings towards COVID‑19 patients, challenges
faced by female RTs, workplace experiences, and excessive workload.
CONCLUSIONS: RTs feelings dramatically changed throughout the COVID‑19 pandemic. All the
RTs have developed a self‑copying style that has helped them improve their psychosocial behavior
to face the pandemic. During the outbreak, frontline RTs’ positive and negative emotions intertwined
and coexisted. Negative emotions predominated in the beginning, while good feelings emerged
gradually. Self‑coping methods and psychosocial development were significant factors in RTs mental
health while caring for COVID‑19 patients.


1. World Health Organization. Infection prevention and control
guidance for long‑term care facilities in the context of COVID‑19:
Interim guidance. World Health Organization 2020. Available
from: [Last
accessed on 2021 Aug 20].
2. Blake H, Bermingham F, Johnson G, Tabner A. Mitigating the
psychological impact of COVID‑19 on healthcare workers:
A digital learning package. Int J Environ Res Public Health
3. Brooks S, Amlot R, Rubin GJ, Greenberg N. Psychological
resilience and post‑traumatic growth in disaster‑exposed
organisations: Overview of the literature. BMJ Mil Health
4. Honey M, Wang WY. New Zealand nurses perceptions of caring
for patients with influenza A (H1N1). Nurs Crit Care 2013;18:63‑9.
5. Liu C, Wang H, Zhou L, Xie H, Yang H, Yu Y, et al. Sources and
symptoms of stress among nurses in the first Chinese anti‑Ebola
medical team during the Sierra Leone aid mission: A qualitative
study. Int J Nurs Sci 2019;6:187‑91.
6. Liu Q, Luo D, Haase JE, Guo Q, Wang XQ, Liu S, et al. The
experiences of health‑care providers during the COVID‑19 crisis
in China: A qualitative study. Lancet Glob Health 2020;8:e790‑8.
7. Su TP, Lien TC, Yang CY, Su YL, Wang JH, Tsai SL, et al.
Prevalence of psychiatric morbidity and psychological adaptation
of the nurses in a structured SARS caring unit during outbreak:
A prospective and periodic assessment study in Taiwan.
J Psychiatr Res 2007;41:119‑30.
8. Bajwah S, Wilcock A, Towers R, Costantini M, Bausewein C,
Simon ST, et al. Managing the supportive care needs of those
affected by COVID‑19. Eur Respir J 2020;55:2000815.
9. Kisely S, Warren N, McMahon L, Dalais C, Henry I, Siskind D.
Occurrence, prevention, and management of the psychological
effects of emerging virus outbreaks on healthcare workers: Rapid
review and meta‑analysis. BMJ 2020;369:m1642.
10. Walton M, Murray E, Christian M. Mental health care for medical
staff and affiliated healthcare workers during the COVID‑19
pandemic. Eur Heart J Acute Cardiovasc Care 2020;9:241‑7.
11. What is intercoder reliability in qualitative
research?. Available from:
intercoder. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 05].
12. Khalid I, Khalid TJ, Qabajah MR, Barnard AG, Qushmaq IA.
Healthcare workers emotions, perceived stressors and coping
strategies during a MERS‑CoV outbreak. Clin Med Res
13. Shacham M, Hamama‑Raz Y, Kolerman R, Mijiritsky O,
Ben‑Ezra M, Mijiritsky E. COVID‑19 factors and psychological
factors associated with elevated psychological distress among
dentists and dental hygienists in Israel. Int J Environ Res Public
Health 2020;17:2900.
14. Why the coronavirus pandemic triggers such deep
fears and how we can calm ourselves down; c2020. Available
‑flight‑responses‑to‑the‑coronavirus-pandemic/. [Last accessed
on 2020 Mar 27].
15. Kang L, Ma S, Chen M, Yang J, Wang Y, Li R, et al. Impact on
mental health and perceptions of psychological care among
medical and nursing staff in Wuhan during the 2019 novel
coronavirus disease outbreak: A cross‑sectional study. Brain
Behav Immun 2020;87:11‑7.
16. Kang L, Li Y, Hu S, Chen M, Yang C, Yang BX, et al. The mental
health of medical workers in Wuhan, China dealing with the 2019
novel coronavirus. Lancet Psychiatry 2020;7:e14.
17. Xiang YT, Yang Y, Li W, Zhang L, Zhang Q, Cheung T, et al.
Timely mental health care for the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak
is urgently needed. Lancet Psychiatry 2020;7:228‑9.
18. Walker L, Hepp N. Psychosocial Eniviroment. Health
and Environment 2016. Available from: https://www.‑health/
environmental‑risks/psychosocial‑environment. [Last accessed
on 2021 Jul 28].
19. Hannemann J, Abdalrahman A, Erim Y, Morawa E, Jerg‑Bretzke L,
Beschoner P, et al. The impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on
the mental health of medical staff considering the interplay
of pandemic burden and psychosocial resources—A rapid
systematic review. PLoS One 2022;17:e0264290.
20. Sun N, Wei L, Shi S, Jiao D, Song R, Ma L, et al. A qualitative
study on the psychological experience of caregivers of
COVID‑19 patients. Am J Infect Control 2020;48:592‑8.
21. Creswell JW. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing
among Five Approaches. 3rd ed. Sage Publications; 2016.
22. Marshall MN. Sampling for qualitative research. Fam Pract
23. Newman I, Newman D, Newman C. Writing research articles
using mixed methods: Methodological considerations to help you
get published. In: Rocco TS, Hatcher TG, Creswell JW, editors. The
Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing. San Francisco,
CA: Jossey‑Bass; 2011. p. 191‑208.
24. Durdella N. Qualitative Dissertation Methodology: A Guide for
Research Design and Methods. Sage Publications. 2017.
25. Sutton J, Austin Z. Qualitative research: Data collection, analysis,
and management. Can J Hosp Pharm 2015;68:226‑31.
26. Saldana J. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 2021.
27. Eftekhar AM, Naserbakht M, Bernstein C, Alazmani NF,
Hakimi H, Ranjbar H. Healthcare providers experience of working
during the COVID‑19 pandemic: A qualitative study. Am J Infect
Control 2021;49:547‑54.
28. Galehdar N, Kamran A, Toulabi T, Heydari H. Exploring
nurses’ experiences of psychological distress during care of
patients with COVID‑19: A qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry
29. Badahdah A, Khamis F, Al Mahyijari N, Al Balushi M, Al
Hatmi H, Al Salmi I, et al. The mental health of health care
workers in Oman during the COVID‑19 pandemic. Int J Soc
Psychiatry 2021;67:90‑5.
30. Caillet A, Coste C, Sanchez R, Allaouchiche B. Psychological
Impact of COVID‑19 on ICU Caregivers. Anaesth Crit Care Pain
Med 2020;39:717‑22.
31. Zhang Y, Wei L, Li H, Pan Y, Wang J, Li Q, et al. The psychological
change process of frontline nurses caring for patients with
COVID‑19 during its outbreak. Issues Ment Health Nurs
32. Rani M, Sharma I, Sharma S, Sharma L, Kumar S. Exploring the
knowledge, attitude, and practice of health‑care professionals on
coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic infection. J Edu Health Promot
33. Das S, Chakraborty A, Chandra S. Psychosocial perception of
health‑care workers in a COVID‑19‑designated hospital in eastern
India. J Educ Health Promot 2022;11:17.
34. Meena SP, Jhirwal M, Puranik AK, Sharma N, Rodha MS,
Lodha M, et al. Awareness and experience of health‑care workers
during coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. J Edu Health Promot
35. Kim Y. Nurses’ experiences of care for patients with the Middle
East respiratory syndrome‑coronavirus in South Korea. Am J
Infect Control 2018;46:781‑7.