Managing the Mental Health of Healthcare Professionals in Times of Crisis: The Aruban COVID-19 Experience

V. Duwel, J.M.L. de Kort, S.S. Jacobs, R.M. Dennert, J.O. Busari*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


A Abstract: PurposeHospital workers in Aruba have been facing an increased demand for healthcare in the unique setting of a Small Island Developing State (SIDS). This study assessed the impact of the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the mental health of staff at the major hospital in Aruba, examining the differences between employee groups, with the goal of providing recommendations for targeted support and coping strategies in future crises in a small island setting. Patients and methods: In a mixed-method cohort design, Dr. Horacio E. Oduber Hospital staff were asked to complete a 25-item questionnaire about their concerns and worries, organization of work, and general wellbeing; 24% of the hospital staff filled in the questionnaire (mean age 41 +/- 11 years, 79% female). Alongside the needs assessment questionnaire, six focus groups were established to explore staff feelings on specific measures taken by hospital management during the COVID-19 crisis. Results: Questionnaire analysis (n = 231) revealed employees' concerns about infecting their relatives and their financial stability. In particular, nurses were significantly more concerned than other staff groups. In the wellbeing section of the questionnaire, items regarding future security scored poorest, alongside increased levels of tiredness and nervousness. Focus groups discussions revealed frustrations of the hospital staff with the foreign staff brought in to help during the crisis and a need for better leadership and communication practices from hospital management. Conclusions: Comprehensive and holistic approaches should be implemented by the hospital management to prevent occupational burnout and demoralized work ethics and further emotional exhaustion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1263
Number of pages16
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • health workforce
  • multidisciplinary
  • low resource setting
  • mental health
  • COVID-19

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