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Gateway CERH conducted a research study in June 2020 that identified stressors and sources of support of rural healthcare workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic (see report here).


As of March 2022, we are engaged in a follow-up study as the pandemic is still ongoing and it is important to continue the research. Questions you may ask:

Should I be involved?
We would like to interview frontline healthcare workers, including Personal Support Workers as well as healthcare support professionals - those employed in a professional, certified capacity that has supported healthcare workers during the pandemic.  This study has been reviewed by the University of Guelph Research Ethics Board (REB#21-08-005) for compliance with federal guidelines for research involving human participants.

What is expected of me?

If you are a rural healthcare worker or provide healthcare support in a professional capacity, live in Huron or Perth county, and are interested in participating, please let us know! For healthcare workers, we request 60-90 minutes of your time and 30-45 minutes for healthcare support professionals for a telephone or video interview scheduled at your convenience. We will be interviewing between January 2022 and May 2022.

Is this study confidential?
Yes! Your participation in the study is confidential. At the end of the study, all data will be destroyed. 

I'm interested! How do I get in touch?
Please contact Casandra Bryant at You can also submit your interest to participate by completing a contact form here -

You can also copy the QR code to submit your interest:


The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in scope and severity and has presented a threat globally to the health and wellbeing of all people. One group of people who face a “double whammy” in terms of having to confront the consequences of the pandemic both personally and professionally are healthcare workers. This study sought to identify stressors rural healthcare workers were experiencing and forms of support, assuming they sought support, to mitigate the stress they experienced. However, it must be recognized that it simply provides a snapshot of their experiences in the middle of the pandemic. All responses were gathered in Huron county during June, 2020. Respondents were invited to complete a short online survey. In total, we had 153 respondents “click” through the whole survey to the end, however, not all respondents answered all questions so the total response to any question will vary.


The main finding in terms of stressors is fear, and this included fear for their own health, fear that they might infect loved ones, in addition to the fear that arises from the delivery of services to patients and changing protocols. Other stressors were increased workload or feeling overworked, constant change, and management and communication challenges in an environment that is continually changing. Furthermore, 65% of the respondents indicated that these stressors did not exist prior to the pandemic while 95% of respondents who indicted that these stressors did not exist prior to the pandemic, reported that they were a direct result of the pandemic. Of those who indicated that they were experiencing some stressors prior to the pandemic, 95% of respondents noted that the pandemic had exacerbated these pre-pandemic stresses. In addition, 76% of respondents indicated that workplace stressors impacted their life outside of work with over 50% indicating it impacted their physical and mental health, while 18% indicated that it created challenges in work/life balance and/or family challenges and concerns (13%). 10% indicated that some of the protocols such as social distancing resulted in them feeling isolated and feeling lonely, especially for those who lived on their own. When asked if they experienced stressors outside the workplace, 79% indicated that they did. Thus they experience stress both as a result of their employment, but also experience stressors that others are experiencing as a result of living through a pandemic. 


When asked about support and where they seek it, only 14% report that they sought out formal support while 71% reported seeking out informal support. The predominant form was seeking out “connection with others” and 87% report that they have access to these forms of support (mostly friends and family). Only 13% indicated they do not have access to these forms of informal support. In terms of mitigating stress, 44% reported engaging in various activities such as gardening, food or sleep while 28% reported engaging in exercise and 15% simply report communicating with others. In summary, healthcare workers experience stress both within the workplace, and in the larger community and most seek informal support to help manage and/or mitigate the stress that they are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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