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1.
Social Science & Medicine ; : 115295, 2022.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-1996561

ABSTRACT

Rationale At the start of 2021, several SARS-CoV-2 cluster outbreaks in schools threatened in-person education and created a fairly chaotic and frightening environment for school personnel. To keep the schools open while preventing COVID-19 outbreaks, intensive diagnostic testing in teachers and school personnel was strongly recommended but missing at the time. Objectives A project was launched in [country blinded] schools to weekly analyze the morning saliva of school personnel using PCR-testing to detect and prevent COVID-19 positive cases. In this quasi-experimental study, we aimed to examine whether the implementation of this saliva testing project impacted school personnel's pandemic-related health concerns, well-being, and adherence to the health-protective measures, contrasting experimental with control schools. Methods The data were collected during the third wave (Alpha-wave, February–March 2021) of the pandemic. The sample consisted of 435 participants from 34 different schools across [country blinded] (78.8% female;M age = 43.87 years, range = 21–67) of which 82% participated in the weekly saliva tests (i.e., experimental group) and 18% took part in the control group. Results Results from a series of linear mixed regression models showed that saliva testing buffered against an increase in health concerns among tested school personnel but did not affect participants' general well-being. Slight declines in adherence to the health-protective behaviors were observed, yet this was only the case for participants who felt less supported by their school principal. High degrees of principals' support also fostered the sharpest decreases in school staff's pandemic-related health concerns. Conclusions When keeping the schools open in unstable pandemic times, weekly saliva testing is a promising strategy to prevent cluster outbreaks while simultaneously safeguarding health concerns among school personnel. School principals appear to play a critical role in the implementation of saliva testing to secure positive effects.

2.
BMJ Open ; 11(7), 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1842606

ABSTRACT

ObjectiveTo describe primary health care (consultation characteristics and management) for patients contacting their general practitioner (GP) with a respiratory tract infection (RTI) early on in the COVID-19 pandemic in contrasting European countries, with comparison to prepandemic findings.SettingPrimary care in 16 countries (79 practices), when no routine SARS-CoV-2 testing was generally available.Design and participantsBefore (n=4376) and early in the pandemic (n=3301), patients with RTI symptoms were registered in this prospective audit study.Outcome measuresConsultation characteristics (type of contact and use of PPE) and management characteristics (clinical assessments, diagnostic testing, prescribing, advice and referral) were registered. Differences in these characteristics between countries and between pandemic and prepandemic care are described.ResultsCare for patients with RTIs rapidly switched to telephone/video consultations (10% in Armenia, 91% in Denmark), and when consultations were face-to-face, GPs used PPE during 97% (95% CI 96% to 98%) of contacts. Laboratory testing for SARS-CoV-2 in primary care patients with RTIs was rapidly implemented in Denmark (59%) and Germany (31%), while overall testing for C reactive protein decreased. The proportion of patients prescribed antibiotics varied considerably between countries (3% in Belgium, 48% in UK) and was lower during the pandemic compared with the months before, except for Greece, Poland and UK. GPs provided frequent and varied COVID-related advice and more frequently scheduled a follow-up contact (50%, 95% CI 48% to 52%). GPs reported a slightly higher degree of confidence in the likely effectiveness of their management in face-to-face (73% (very) confident, 95% CI 71% to 76%) than in virtual consultations (69%, 95% CI 67% to 71%).ConclusionsDespite between-country variation in consultation characteristics, access to SARS-CoV-2 laboratory testing and medication prescribing, GPs reported a high degree of confidence in managing their patients with RTIs in the emerging pandemic. Insight in the highly variable pandemic responses, as measured in this multicountry audit, can aid in fine-tuning national action and in coordinating a pan-European response during future pandemic threats.

3.
Vaccine ; 40(9): 1191-1197, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1757898

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has offered a powerful preventive measure to help control SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Nevertheless, long-standing public hesitation around vaccines heightened concerns that vaccine coverage would not achieve desired public health impacts, particularly in light of more contagious variants. This cross-sectional survey was conducted online just before the European vaccine rollout in December 2020 among 7000 respondents (aged 18-65) in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine. The survey included open text boxes for fuller explanation of responses. Overall, 56.9% of respondents would accept a COVID-19 vaccine, 19.0% would not, and 24.1% did not know or preferred not to say. By country, between 44% (France) and 66% (Italy) of respondents would accept a COVID-19 vaccine. Respondents expressed conditionality in open responses, voicing concerns about vaccine safety and mistrust of authorities. We highlight lessons learned about the dynamism of vaccine conditionality and persistence of safety concerns.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Vaccines , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination , Young Adult
4.
International Journal of Qualitative Methods ; : 1-11, 2022.
Article in English | Academic Search Complete | ID: covidwho-1759653

ABSTRACT

The impacts of healthcare professionals (HCPs) being research participants are often neglected. As professionals, they tend to be perceived as 'immune' to many negative effects of sharing their experiences. However, in the context of an ongoing global pandemic such as COVID-19, these assumptions can be clearly challenged. This article draws on researchers' experiences of conducting single and longitudinal qualitative interviews with HCPs during the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe during 2020. Reflecting on the methodological and ethical implications of doing such research during a pandemic allows researchers to surface assumptions about and question categories of 'vulnerability' and 'sensitivity'. We explore these categories in relation to three issues we have identified: (i) Blurred boundaries in researcher-participant relationships;(ii) Interviews as spaces to process experiences;and (iii) Motivations to conduct and participate in research. We demonstrate that qualitative interviews during a pandemic are embedded in sense-making processes for both the interviewer and participant, and as such may play an important role in coping and resilience. We therefore argue for ethically active research that critically engages with the concepts of 'vulnerability' and 'sensitivity', and underpinning assumptions, in context over time throughout the research process for current and future research with HCPs and other groups beyond pandemic situations. We thus aim to prepare researchers for managing these potential facets during the research process. We conclude with practical implications for managing emerging ethical tensions, methodological challenges and the wide-ranging possibilities and responsibilities for research with HCPs, urging researchers to consider the issues in advance. [ FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of International Journal of Qualitative Methods is the property of Sage Publications Inc. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full . (Copyright applies to all s.)

5.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-330265

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 has presented a substantial burden on students and healthcare staff. This mixed-method, descriptive and correlational study aimed to : 1) describe academic;and 2) professional burnout levels;3) their associations with working in COVID-19-related care;and 4) with perceived COVID-19 impact on studies and internships among medical students and residents. During first lockdown in Belgium, a cross-sectional survey assessed academic burnout (MBI-SS) and professional burnout in relation to internships and residency (MBI-HSS). Correlations and t-tests tested associations of burnout with involvement in COVID-19-related care and perceived impact of COVID-19 on studies and work (SPSS). Participants provided open-ended comments which were thematically analysed (NVivo). In total, 194 medical students and residents participated (79.5% female, M age = 24.9 ± 2.5). Emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation were high in professional burnout, but moderate in academic burnout. Those involved in COVID-19 related care perceived a higher impact of COVID-19 on their studies and internship/residency and have higher professional burnout, but do not show a higher academic burnout. Those who have a higher perceived impact of COVID-19 on their studies scored higher on academic burnout. Participants mentioned an increased workload, distress, fewer learning opportunities, lack of relatedness with patients and supervisors and cynicism towards remote care or non-medical tasks. Students and residents showed indications of professional and academic burnout in relation to the COVID-19 situation. Interventions are needed that can meet the needs of achieving learning outcomes, managing extreme situations and relatedness.

6.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0245182, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1674002

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Working under pandemic conditions exposes health care workers (HCWs) to infection risk and psychological strain. A better understanding of HCWs' experiences of following local infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures during COVID-19 is urgently needed to inform strategies for protecting the psychical and psychological health of HCWs. The objective of this study was therefore to capture the perceptions of hospital HCWs on local IPC procedures and the impact on their emotional wellbeing during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. METHODS: Participants were recruited in two sampling rounds of an international cross-sectional survey. Sampling took place between 31 March and 17 April 2020 via existing research networks and between 14 May and 31 August 2020 via online convenience sampling. Main outcome measures were behavioural determinants of HCWs' adherence to IPC guidelines and the WHO-5 Well-Being Index, a validated scale of 0-100 reflecting emotional wellbeing. The WHO-5 was interpreted as a score below or above 50 points, a cut-off score used in previous literature to screen for depression. RESULTS: 2289 HCWs from 40 countries in Europe participated. Mean age was 42 (±11) years, 66% were female, 47% and 39% were medical doctors and nurses, respectively. 74% (n = 1699) of HCWs were directly treating patients with COVID-19, of which 32% (n = 527) reported they were fearful of caring for these patients. HCWs reported high levels of concern about COVID-19 infection risk to themselves (71%) and their family (82%) as a result of their job. 40% of HCWs considered that getting infected with COVID-19 was not within their control. This feeling was more common among junior than senior HCWs (46% versus 38%, P value < .01). Sufficient COVID-19-specific IPC training, confidence in PPE use and institutional trust were positively associated with the feeling that becoming infected with COVID-19 was within their control. Female HCWs were more likely than males to report a WHO-5 score below 50 points (aOR 1.5 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-1.8). CONCLUSIONS: In Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a differential impact on those providing direct COVID-19 patient care, junior staff and women. Health facilities must be aware of these differential impacts, build trust and provide tailored support for this vital workforce during the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Guidelines as Topic/standards , Health Personnel/psychology , Hospitals/standards , Infection Control/statistics & numerical data , Personal Protective Equipment/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/psychology , COVID-19/virology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Europe/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Male , Patient Care/methods , Patient Care/standards
7.
BJGP Open ; 2022 Apr 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1627151

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients' and clinicians' perceptions of healthcare-seeking behaviour and delivery of care is unclear. The pandemic accelerated the use of remote care, and understanding its benefits and drawbacks may inform its implementation during current and future healthcare emergencies. AIM: To explore patients' and primary care professionals' (PCPs) experiences of primary care delivery in the first wave of the pandemic. DESIGN & SETTING: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews in primary care in eight European countries (England, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Poland, Sweden, and Germany). METHOD: A total of 146 interviews were conducted with 80 PCPs and 66 patients consulting for respiratory tract infection (RTI) symptoms, in eight European countries. Data were collected between April and July 2020, and analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: It was found that patients accepted telemedicine when PCPs spent time to understand and address their concerns, but a minority preferred in-person consultations. PCPs felt that remote consultations created emotional distance between themselves and patients, and they reported having to manage diverse COVID-19-related medical and social concerns. CONCLUSION: Remote consultations for RTI symptoms may be acceptable long term if both groups are happy to use this format, but it is important that PCPs take time to address patients' concerns and provide safety-netting advice.

8.
BMJ Open ; 12(1): e058912, 2022 Jan 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1605556

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Children become ill quite often, mainly because of infections, most of which can be managed in the community. Many children are prescribed antibiotics which contributes to antimicrobial resistance and reinforces health-seeking behaviour. Point-of-care C reactive protein (POC CRP) testing, prescription guidance and safety-netting advice can help safely reduce antibiotic prescribing to acutely ill children in ambulatory care as well as save costs at a systems level. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The ARON (Antibiotic prescribing Rate after Optimal Near-patient testing in acutely ill children in ambulatory care) trial is a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled superiority trial with a nested process evaluation and will assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of a diagnostic algorithm, which includes a standardised clinical assessment, a POC CRP test, and safety-netting advice, in acutely ill children aged 6 months to 12 years presenting to ambulatory care. The primary outcome is antibiotic prescribing at the index consultation; secondary outcomes include clinical recovery, reconsultation, referral/admission to hospital, additional testing, mortality and patient satisfaction. We aim to recruit a total sample size of 6111 patients. All outcomes will be analysed according to the intent-to-treat approach. We will use a mixed-effect logistic regression analysis to account for the clustering at practice level. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study will be conducted in compliance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki (current version), the principles of Good Clinical Practice and in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements. Ethics approval for this study was obtained on 10 November 2020 from the Ethics Committee Research of University Hospitals Leuven under reference S62005. We will ensure that the findings of the study will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders other than the scientific world including the public, healthcare providers and policy-makers. The process evaluation that is part of this trial may provide a basis for an implementation strategy. If our intervention proves to be clinically and cost-effective, it will be essential to educate physicians about introducing the diagnostic algorithm including POC CRP testing and safety-netting advice in their daily practice. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04470518. Protocol V.2.0 date 2 October 2020. (Pre-results).


Subject(s)
Anti-Bacterial Agents , C-Reactive Protein , Ambulatory Care , Anti-Bacterial Agents/therapeutic use , C-Reactive Protein/analysis , Child , Humans , Point-of-Care Systems , Point-of-Care Testing , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
9.
Antibiotics (Basel) ; 10(12)2021 Dec 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1554826

ABSTRACT

Antibiotic overprescribing is one of the main drivers of the global and growing problem of antibiotic resistance, especially in primary care and for respiratory tract infections (RTIs). RTIs are the most common reason for patients to consult out-of-hours (OOH) primary care. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way general practitioners (GPs) work, both during office hours and OOH. In Belgian OOH primary care, remote consultations with the possibility of issuing prescriptions and telephone triage were implemented. We aimed to describe the impact of COVID-19 on GPs' antibiotic prescribing during OOH primary care. In an observational study, using routinely collected health data from GP cooperatives (GPCs) in Flanders, we analyzed GPs' antibiotic prescriptions in 2019 (10 GPCs) and 2020 (20 GPCs) during OOH consultations (telephone and face-to-face). We used autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) modeling to identify any changes after lockdowns were implemented. In total, 388,293 contacts and 268,430 prescriptions were analyzed in detail. The number of antibiotic prescriptions per weekend, per 100,000 population was 11.47 (95% CI: 9.08-13.87) or 42.9% lower after compared to before the implementation of lockdown among all contacts. For antibiotic prescribing per contact, we found a decrease of 12.2 percentage points (95% CI: 10.6-13.7) or 56.5% among all contacts and of 5.3 percentage points (95% CI: 3.7-6.9) or 23.2% for face-to-face contacts only. The decrease in the number of prescriptions was more pronounced for cases with respiratory symptoms that corresponded with symptoms of COVID-19 and for antibiotics that are frequently prescribed for RTIs, such as amoxicillin (a decrease of 64.9%) and amoxicillin/clavulanate (a decrease of 38.1%) but did not appear for others such as nitrofurantoin. The implementation of COVID-19 lockdown measures coincided with an unprecedented drop in the number of antibiotic prescriptions, which can be explained by a decrease in face-to-face patient contacts, as well as a lower number of antibiotics prescriptions per face-to-face patient contact. The decrease was seen for antibiotics used for RTIs but not for nitrofurantoin, the first-choice antibiotic for urinary tract infections.

10.
Front Med (Lausanne) ; 8: 726319, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1441118

ABSTRACT

Background: Minimising primary care professionals' (PCPs) risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection is crucial to ensure their safety as well as functioning health care system. PCPs' perspectives on the support they needed in the early stages of a public health crisis can inform future preparedness. Aim: To understand PCPs' experiences of providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, with focus on personal risk from COVID-19 and testing. Design and Setting: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with PCPs in England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Greece and Sweden, between April and July 2020. Method: Interviews were analysed using a combination of inductive and deductive thematic analysis techniques. Results: Eighty interviews were conducted, showing that PCPs tried to make sense of their risk of both contracting and severity of COVID-19 by assessing individual risk factors and perceived effectiveness of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They had limited access to PPE yet continued providing care as their "duty." Some PCPs felt that they were put in high-risk situations when patients or colleagues were not flagging symptoms of COVID-19. Not having access to testing in the initial stages of the pandemic was somewhat accepted but when available, was valued. Conclusion: Access to adequate PPE and testing, as well as training for staff and education for patients about the importance of ensuring staff safety is crucial. Given PCPs' varied response in how they appraised personal risk and their tolerance for working, PCPs may benefit from the autonomy in deciding how they want to work during health emergencies.

11.
BMJ Glob Health ; 6(9)2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1440818

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: In order to tackle the pandemic, governments have established various types of advisory boards to provide evidence and recommendations to policy makers. Scientists working on these boards have faced many challenges, including working under significant time constraints to produce 'evidence' as quickly as possible. However, their voices are still largely missing in the discussion. This study explores the views and experiences of scientists working on government advisory boards during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim to learn lessons for future pandemic management and preparedness. METHODS: We conducted online video or telephone semi-structured interviews between December 2020 and April 2021 with 21 scientists with an official government advisory role during the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium, the Netherlands, UK, Sweden and Germany. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed and analysed using a combination of inductive and deductive thematic analysis techniques. RESULTS: Scientists viewed the initial focus on biomedically oriented work during the pandemic as somewhat one-dimensional, but also highlighted difficulties of working in an interdisciplinary way. They found it difficult at times to ensure that the evidence is understood and taken on board by governments. They found themselves taking on new roles, the boundaries of which were not clearly defined. Consequently, they were often perceived and treated as a public figure. CONCLUSION: Scientists working on advisory boards in European countries faced similar challenges, highlighting key lessons to be learnt. Future pandemic preparedness efforts should focus on building interdisciplinary collaboration through development of scientists' skills and appropriate infrastructure; ensuring transparency in how boards operate; defining and protecting the boundaries of the scientific advisor role; and supporting scientists to inform the public in the fight against disinformation, while dealing with potential hostile reactions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Europe , Government , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2
12.
Br J Gen Pract ; 71(709): e634-e642, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1299600

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Primary care has a crucial role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as the first point of patient care and gatekeeper to secondary care. Qualitative studies exploring the experiences of healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic have mainly focused on secondary care. AIM: To gain an understanding of the experiences of European primary care professionals (PCPs) working during the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN AND SETTING: An exploratory qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews in primary care in England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Greece, and Sweden, between April and July 2020. METHOD: Interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed, and analysed using a combination of inductive and deductive thematic analysis techniques. RESULTS: Eighty interviews were conducted with PCPs. PCPs had to make their own decisions on how to rapidly transform services in relation to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care. Despite being overwhelmed with guidance, they often lacked access to practical training. Consequently, PCPs turned to their colleagues for moral support and information to try to quickly adjust to new ways of working, including remote care, and to deal with uncertainty. CONCLUSION: PCPs rapidly transformed primary care delivery despite a number of challenges. Representation of primary care at policy level and engagement with local primary care champions are needed to facilitate easy and coordinated access to practical information on how to adapt services, ongoing training, and access to appropriate mental health support services for PCPs. Preservation of autonomy and responsiveness of primary care are critical to preserve the ability for rapid transformation in any future crisis of care delivery.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Belgium , Delivery of Health Care , England , Europe/epidemiology , Germany , Humans , Ireland , Netherlands , Poland , Primary Health Care , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , Sweden
13.
PLoS One ; 16(3): e0249391, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1167114

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Households are important sites for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and preventive measures are recommended. This study aimed to 1) investigate the impact of living with a person infected with SARS-CoV-2; 2) understand how household members implemented infection control recommendations in their home; and 3) identify the information and support needs of household members. METHODS: For this observational mixed-methods study, households with a person with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were recruited via drive-through testing sites of Municipal Health Services, healthcare worker screening or hospital emergency visits in the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands and via primary care physicians, hospital emergency visits or preoperative screening in the University Hospital of Antwerp, Belgium. We recorded household characteristics, including characteristics of all household members, together with their views on prevention measures. In a subset of households one adult household member was asked to participate in an interview investigating their views on preventive measures. Survey data were analysed using descriptive statistics and interview data by rapid framework analysis. A triangulation protocol was used to integrate findings. RESULTS: Thirty-four households (120 household members) were included in the quantitative survey. Twenty-two households were invited to be interviewed, of which 18 completed an interview (response 81.8%). Survey data showed that almost all households implemented some preventive measures, the use of face masks being least frequently reported. Measures taken depended on what was physically possible, the perceived severity of illness of the index patient and to what extent household members were willing to limit social interaction. Respondents did not believe in the effectiveness of wearing face masks within the house, and from the interviews this was explained by media coverage of face masks, impracticality and the stigma associated with wearing masks. Interviewees reported that quarantine had a high emotional burden and wished to have more information about the exact duration of quarantine, their own COVID-19 status, symptoms and when to seek medical help. CONCLUSION: People were willing to implement prevention measures, however actual adherence depended on perceived severity of illness and the perceived risk of becoming infected. Homes are social environments and recommendations for infection prevention should account for this context. Incorporating our findings into policy making could provide households with more relevant and actionable advice.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Housing , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Masks , Middle Aged , Quarantine , Young Adult
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