Original Research

Caring for the careers: A psychosocial support model for healthcare workers during a pandemic

Idah Moyo, Livhuwani Tshivhase, Azwihangwisi H. Mavhandu-Mudzusi
Curationis | Vol 46, No 1 | a2430 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v46i1.2430 | © 2023 Idah Moyo, Livhuwani Tshivhase, Azwihangwisi H. Mavhandu-Mudzusi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 October 2022 | Published: 21 June 2023

About the author(s)

Idah Moyo, HIV Services, Population Solution for Health, Harare, Zimbabwe; and, Department of Health Sciences, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Livhuwani Tshivhase, Department of Nursing Sciences, School of Health Care Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Azwihangwisi H. Mavhandu-Mudzusi, Department of Graduate Studies and Research, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has further placed additional stress on the already fragile and overstretched healthcare system in Zimbabwe. Most healthcare institutions reported staff shortages, inability to cope with the extra workload, burnout and the resultant psychological implications.

Objectives: This study aimed to develop a psychosocial support model that sustains a support structure that will contribute to an enabling work environment promoting efficiency and effectiveness in response to public health emergencies.

Method: Empirical findings from interpretive phenomenological analysis studies on healthcare workers’ experiences during the COVID-19 in Zimbabwe formed the basis for model development. The model development in this study was informed by the work of Donabedian, Dickoff, James and Wiedenbach, Walker and Avant, Chinn, Kramer and Wilkes.

Results: The developed model is described using the elements of Donabedian’s framework (structure, process and outcome) and of Dickoff, James and Wiedenbach’s (1968) practice theory elements (agents, recipients, context, process, dynamics and outcome) and within the national and international context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion: The fragile and under-resourced healthcare system has psychosocial implications to the well-being of healthcare workers. The utilisation of this model is critical and facilitates the provision of an enabling and supportive environment that facilitates efficiency in response activities during pandemics.

Contribution: This study provides a reference guide in the provision of psychosocial support for healthcare workers particularly during public health emergencies. There is paucity of evidence focusing on the well-being of healthcare workers during a crisis, hence the significance of this study.


caring; healthcare workers; model; pandemic, psychosocial; support

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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