INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to determine the level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and internalized stigma among healthcare workers caring for patients with coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) during the height of the pandemic.
METHODS: The data of this descriptive, cross-sectional study were collected online using a personal information form and the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (PCL-DSM-5).
RESULTS: The mean PCL-DSM-5 score of the healthcare professionals evaluated was 38.143±17.30765. When asked about their perception of stigma related to COVID-19, half of those who tested positive for COVID-19 concealed the diagnosis from neighbors and family, 91% of the participants felt the need to isolate themselves when potentially symptomatic, 60% stated that other people were trying to avoid them, and 66% reported symptoms of COVID-19.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Healthcare professionals who experienced possible symptoms of COVID-19 and chose to isolate themselves and those who felt that others were trying to stay away from them experienced more symptoms of PTSD. Our findings indicated that many healthcare workers who cared for patients with COVID-19 reported signs of internalized stigma and PTSD. These findings and other literature reports emphasize the need to provide healthcare professionals with appropriate emotional support in order to ensure employee welfare, retention, and quality care.