Ethical Challenges of Medical Social Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Yenagoa City, Bayelsa State, Nigeria




COVID-19, ethical challenges, medical social workers, pandemic, ideological dilemma


The COVID-19 pandemic increased healthcare workers' chances of exposure to medical hazards. This study investigates the ethical challenges of medical social workers during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Yenagoa City, Bayelsa state, Nigeria. Using the Ideological Dilemma model as a theoretical framework, this qualitative study, through a snowball sampling method, employed an in-depth interview to study 25 medical social workers recruited from three medical establishments in Yenagoa city. The collected data for this study were analysed thematically using content analysis with the aid of ATLAS.ti software. Findings from the study indicated that medical social workers experienced ethical challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic in Yenagoa City. These challenges included creating and maintaining trust with patients, deciding to follow or ignore policies in the face of emergencies, prioritising patients’ needs despite the risks, and managing the workload alongside personal and emotional needs. Medical social workers generally experience fatigue and challenges handling persistent patients and their family members. The study recommended that the government partner with the state healthcare sector and introduce technology that may enable workers and their patients to communicate privately.


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Author Biographies

Endurance Uzobo, Niger Delta University

Department of Sociology

Grace A.T Scent, Niger Delta University

Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Niger Delta University

Mezewo E. Obuzor, Rivers State University

Assistant Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Rivers State University, Port Harcout, Rivers State, Nigeria


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How to Cite

Uzobo, Endurance, Grace Atije Tonye Scent, and Mezewo Emerinwe Obuzor. 2024. “Ethical Challenges of Medical Social Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Yenagoa City, Bayelsa State, Nigeria”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 36 (1):18 pages.



Received 2022-08-13
Accepted 2023-10-09
Published 2024-03-05