Lucas Alves de Oliveira Lima (Graduating in Administration – UFRRJ – Brazil); Paulo Lourenço Domingues Jr (Associate professor – UFRRJ); Matheus Alves de Oliveira Lima (Graduating in Administration – UFRRJ); Gabriela Halfeld Barros Duarte (Graduate student in Administration – UFRRJ)

The present study aimed to understand the main factors that contributed to affect the quality of life at work of the professionals at the Emergency Care Unit of Três Rios (Rio de Janeiro – Brazil) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency with the Covid-19 pandemic. In this scenario, health professionals began to have their work routine affected due to the high demand for care to the infected and, consequently, the risk of contamination by the new coronavirus. As Rodrigues and Silva (2020) point out, the social inequalities existing in Brazil have potentiated the effects of the pandemic nationwide, which contributed to worsen the quality of life of workers who work on the front line in the fight against the virus. It is worth mentioning that there are several definitions around the concept of Quality of Life at Work (QWL), however, all approaches are linked to corporate practices that emphasize the well-being of the individual at work rather than occupational diseases (CONTE, 2003). Thus, the theme in question has gained greater notoriety in the current pandemic scenario, given the recurrence of contamination and the harmful effects on mental health that encompass normal expected reactions of stress, as well as more severe reactions of psychological suffering.

Regarding the method, this research is characterized as exploratory with a qualitative approach, which aims to understand a given phenomenon from the integrated analysis of the participants involved. For data collection, a semi structured interview was applied with a sample consisting of 15 professionals from the Emergency Care Unit of the city of Três Rios (Rio de Janeiro). The study took place in the first half of 2020, and the interviewees were selected according to a non-probabilistic convenience sampling. As for data processing, the technique of discourse analysis was applied, whose purpose is to apprehend the meaning of the word given by the subject. Thus, there was a focus on the meaning of the message and, consequently, the selection of the text, reading of the transcripts, coding, data analysis and, finally, the analytical writing of the discourse occurred.

By conducting the survey, it was possible to understand that the professionals were working in a temporary field hospital, which contributed to worsening the working conditions in the unit. Besides this factor, the absence of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training also contributed to affect the respondent`s quality of life. Despite the mentioned obstacles, no respondents reported contracting the virus during the survey. However, the employees, especially the women, emphasized the recurrence of psychological problems due to the pandemic outlook, such as excessive stress, insomnia, sadness and/or mental fatigue.

The results showed that the quality of life of the servers was affected mainly by factors related to the precariousness in the tangible dimension, such as inadequate infrastructure and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Besides the tangible dimension, it is worth mentioning the lack of training for the professionals, which contributed to worsen the quality of life in the unit. At the time of the research, the professionals were working in a temporary field hospital, where medical care was provided in two improvised tents. Nevertheless, the staff had to attend to patients without the use of adequate equipment and training, thus increasing the chances of contagion to the new coronavirus. Such factors contributed to potentiate dysphoric mental states, since fear, a necessary defense component against possible threats, became chronic. Thus, there was a significant increase in mental illness among the employees, and this illness impacted, above all, the women in the unit who are married, have children, and who perform non-work activities. In this bias, it was verified that women who manage the domestic routine and work ended up being overloaded and, consequently, more susceptible to becoming ill.

Through this qualitative research, it was possible to conclude that the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), inadequate infrastructure and lack of training were the main factors affecting the quality of life at work of professionals in the Emergency Care Unit of Três Rios. Thus, the high demand for patient care and the fear of exposure to the new coronavirus caused a greater pressure on the work routine and, consequently, provoked the aggravation and manifestation of psychological diseases. In general parameters, it was found that the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to worsen the work routine of the servers, and the impacts of such an event were not manifested in the same proportion among the interviewees, given that there was a greater vulnerability among females.

Tags: Applied research, COVID-19, Empirical study, Hazardous Work Environments and Safety, Health care and social assistance, Workplace Stress; Outcomes; and Recovery