Document Type : Original Article
Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management, University of Ghana Business School, Accra, Ghana
Ghana Health Service, Abokobi Health Centre, Accra, Ghana
Faculty of Health and Allied Sciences, Catholic University College of Ghana, Sunyani, Ghana
Research about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), its epidemiology and socio- economic impact on populations worldwide has gained attention. However, there is dearth of empirical knowledge in low- and middleincome settings about the pandemic’s impact on survivors, particularly the tension of their everyday life arising from the experiences and consequences of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion, and how they cope with these behavioral adversities.
Realist qualitative approach drawing data from people clinically diagnosed positive of COVID-19, admitted into therapy in a designated treatment facility, and subsequently recovered and discharged for or without follow-up domiciliary care. In-depth interviews were conducted by maintaining a code book for identifying and documenting thematic categories in a progression leading to thematic saturation with 45 participants. Data were transcribed and coded deductively for broad themes at the start before systematically nesting emerging themes into the broad ones with the aid of NVivo 12 software.
Everyday lived experiences of the participants were disrupted with acts of indirect stigmatization (against relatives and family members), direct stigmatization (labeling, prejudices and stereotyping), barriers to realizing full social life and discriminatory behaviors across socio-ecological structures (workplace, community, family, and social institutions). These behavioral adversities were associated with self-reported poor health, anxiety and psychological disorders, and frustrations among others. Consequently, supplicatory prayers, societal and organizational withdrawal, aggressive behaviors, supportive counseling, and self-assertive behaviors were adopted to cope and modify the adverse behaviors driven by misinformation and fearful perceptions of the COVID-19 and its contagious proportions.
In the face of the analysis, social campaigns and dissemination of toolkits that can trigger behavior change and responsible behaviors toward COVID-19 survivors are proposed to be implemented by health stakeholders, policy and decision makers in partnership with social influencers, the media, and telecoms.