Hermeneutic Analysis of International Stories: Lived Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pamela J. Gampetro 1 * , Celeste M. Schultz 1, Clare Biedenharn 2

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp. 206-225

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Writing stories about distressing experiences can be a step in navigating traumatic events. With favorable conditions for novel zoonotic disease spurring future health crises, we aimed to (1) Gain insights into the lived experiences of individuals during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) Uncover gaps in care that individuals identified within their healthcare, community, and family settings; and (3) Understand commonalities among perceived psychological well-being of individuals working within their health care settings. Following examination by a midwestern university institutional review board, this study was found exempt from human subject research. A hermeneutic phenomenological framework guided the inquiry. Eighty-six stories came from 11 countries, with 64% submitted by healthcare team members. We found: (1) Lived experiences evolved from a fluid and dynamic process by which personal knowledge emerged from the interaction between individuals’ internal responses to the pandemic and their external behaviors that assisted with coping; (2) Inequities existed in how global resources and information to treatment and mitigation of C-19 was communicated within health care systems, communities, and families, impacting personal psychological safety and well-being; and (3) Spiritual fortitude supported individuals’ well-being as they coped with adversities related to psychologically unsafe work milieus, inequities, and losses. Communal activities within hospital, family and/or community settings improved the well-being of individuals’ lived experiences. Our findings will inform hospital leadership, communities, and families of individuals’ lived experiences early in the pandemic. We provide recommendations that assist in the management of future health crises involving novel viruses.

Keywords: International, COVID-19, hermeneutic analysis, lived experience, psychological well-being.