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Chaudhry BM, Islam A, Matthieu M. Toward Designs of Workplace Stress Management Mobile Apps for Frontline Health Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: Mixed Methods Qualitative Study. JMIR formative research. 2022 Jan 13; 6(1):e30640.
BACKGROUND: In recent years, mobile apps have been developed to prevent burnout, promote anxiety management, and provide health education to workers in various workplace settings. However, there remains a paucity of such apps for frontline health workers (FHWs), even though FHWs are the most susceptible to stress due to the nature of their jobs. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to provide suggestions for designing stress management apps to address workplace stressors of FHWs based on the understanding of their needs from FHWs' own perspectives and theories of stress. METHODS: A mixed methods qualitative study was conducted. Using a variety of search strings, we first collected 41 relevant web-based news articles published between December 2019 and May 2020 through the Google search engine. We then conducted a cross-sectional survey with 20 FHWs. Two researchers independently conducted qualitative analysis of all the collected data using a deductive followed by an inductive approach. RESULTS: Prevailing uncertainty and fear of contracting the infection was causing stress among FHWs. Moral injury associated with seeing patients die from lack of care and lack of experience in handling various circumstances were other sources of stress. FHWs mentioned 4 coping strategies. Quick coping strategies such as walking away from stressful situations, entertainment, and exercise were the most common ways to mitigate the impact of stress at work. Peer support and counseling services were other popular methods. Building resilience and driving oneself forward using internal motivation were also meaningful ways of overcoming stressful situations. Time constraints and limited management support prevented FHWs from engaging in stress management activities. CONCLUSIONS: Our study identified stressors, coping strategies, and challenges with applying coping strategies that can guide the design of stress management apps for FHWs. Given that the pandemic is ongoing and health care crises continue, FHWs remain a vulnerable population in need of attention.