Development and pilot testing of an m-health intervention to reduce COVID-19 associated psychosocial distress among Nigerian healthcare workers

Lead Research Organisation: Obafemi Awolowo University
Department Name: Faculty of Clinical Sciences


All over the world, people are experiencing a high level of stress due to a new virus called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This virus has affected people's health and the economy of many countries. Doctors and nurses - hereafter referred to as healthcare workers (HWs) - are involved with saving the lives of people infected with COVID-19. HWs are in danger of getting infected with COVID-19 too. Hence, they experience high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, their interaction with family, friends, and the community are affected. Therefore, it is important to look after the health of the HWs especially their mental health. Studies have shown that phone-based treatment methods can be helpful in treating people with or who are likely to have mental health problems. Making this treatment suitable for Nigerian HWs is very important. This project will look into emotional and social problems connected to COVID-19 among Nigerian HWs and develop a treatment method that will be provided through phones and the internet. The study will be carried out among HWs in two Nigerian hospitals. It will involve collecting different types of information and testing the usefulness of this new treatment method.

Technical Summary

The advent of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) disease (COVID-19) across the globe has brought severe disproportionate distress on individuals, communities, health resources, and nations. The distress is increasingly eroding the mental health and wellbeing of patients and caregivers in contexts with precariously fragile health resources. Nigeria with all health parameters below the WHO standard is no exception. COVID-19 related distress in Nigeria is rapidly jeopardising the mental health and wellbeing of health workers, especially doctors and nurses who spend relatively more time with patients. Doctors and nurses, hereafter referred to as healthcare workers (HWs), are brutally besieged by long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, and occupational burnout. Also, the HWs' exposure to the virus is exponentially increasing while some of the control measures, like social distancing, imposed by the government are depleting their social capital and social connectedness, further undermining their mental health and wellbeing. However, m-health intervention is increasingly seen by some experts as a game-changer in the context of solutions to mental health and wellbeing challenges. Therefore, this project investigates COVID-19 associated psychosocial distress and evaluate the feasibility and pilot-testing of a guided m-health intervention among Nigeria's HWs. The study will use mixed-method to collect data for pilot-testing a guided m-health intervention to reduce Covid-19 associated psychosocial distress among the HWs in selected tertiary hospitals, Southwest Nigeria. The findings of this project would provide useful information on the feasibility of using such intervention for improving the psychosocial health of Nigerian HWs.


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Description Short video for stakeholders engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The research team members produce a 3-minute short video informing study participants (doctors and nurses) in the 2 hospitals (Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, and Lagos State University Teaching Hospitals, Lagos) about the study and commencement of quantitative data collection. The video was sent through the doctors' and nurses' WhatsApp groups. Also, it was posted on Facebook. Feedback from the study participants with regards to the video was positive as they were interested in the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Stakeholders meeting at Ile-Ife, Nigeria 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We had our stakeholders meeting on the 15th of June 2021, at the Lekan Badru Hall, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife Nigeria. Nineteen key stakeholders, 15 research team members (4 joined online via Zoom) and 3 pressmen attended the meeting. The principal investigator welcomed the stakeholders and introduced the sponsor of the research grant project. He later presented an overview of the project and each of the stakeholders had the opportunity to ask questions about the project. This led to a discussion and suggestion about how to improve the implementation of the research protocol. They were excited about the development of an m-health psychological intervention for the healthcare workers. They suggested that the results of the research project should be made available to hospital members, hospital management, the state government through the ministry of health, and politicians. The stakeholders reported an increased interest in the research project and promise to support the research team in the actualization of the research objectives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021