Job dissatisfaction rose during the pandemic for healthcare workers in Ghana and Kenya

Healthcare workers are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies have shown anxiety, depression and distress among frontline workers. However, there hasn’t been as much research about job satisfaction. Job dissatisfaction can impact performance, commitment, missing work, retention and turnover. Those impacts are more severe in low- and middle-income countries, threatening the stability of fragile health systems.

To inform workforce development efforts that will impact current and future pandemic response in sub-Saharan Africa, Patience Afulani and colleagues explored job satisfaction among healthcare workers in Ghana and Kenya during the pandemic.

They found that more than 1/3 of providers in Ghana and Kenya were dissatisfied with their jobs during the pandemic. Their levels of dissatisfaction were higher than before the pandemic. However, job dissatisfaction was higher earlier in the pandemic than in the later phase.

More than 2/3 of providers felt lack of preparedness to deal with the pandemic, moderate to high stress, and low to high burnout. High stress and burnout were associated with lower job satisfaction.

These findings have implications for the pandemic response in Africa. Healthcare workers’ concerns about preparedness, support and mental health must be addressed. Interventions to address stress and burnout are particularly important. However, organizational and health system changes are required to for sustained change. The governments of Ghana and Kenya, and hospital management in each country, must take meaningful steps to support healthcare workers nationally and locally.