rural health, affective emotional, linguistic inquiry word count, qualitative research


The pandemic increased the stress levels of frontline healthcare providers in every country across the globe, and continues to do so. Health care providers in the rural regions of the U.S. were more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 due to the lack of resources and the population they serve. A qualitative study of 25 rural healthcare providers in a western U.S. state was conducted during 2020. In this report, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) was used to compare the use of emotion and reward words in 12 providers interviewed before the onset of COVID-19 on March 11, 2020, to 13 interviews conducted after COVID-19 onset. Results indicated that providers used fewer positive emotion words after COVID-19 onset compared to before COVID. Negative emotion words also decreased. Words related to the rewarding aspects of their work increased after COVID-19, but differed among the pre- and post-COVID groups. Positive emotion words was more strongly related to rewards in the post-COVID group. Providers reported concerns about access to care for those unable to be treated for the increased depression, anxiety and suicide ideation related to the pandemic. The rural health care system needs policies directed at improving patient access to care and greater funding.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.