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1.
BMC Health Serv Res ; 22(1): 504, 2022 Apr 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1793947

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Hospital infection prevention and control (IPC) depends on consistent practice to achieve its purpose. Standard precautions are embedded in modern healthcare policies, but not uniformly observed by all clinicians. Well-documented differences in attitudes to IPC, between doctors and nurses, contribute to suboptimal IPC practices and persistence of preventable healthcare-associated infections. The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected healthcare professionals' work-practices, lives and health and increased awareness and observance of IPC. Successful transition of health services to a 'post-COVID-19' future, will depend on sustainable integration of lessons learnt into routine practice. METHODS: The aim of this pre-COVID-19 qualitative study was to investigate factors influencing doctors' IPC attitudes and practices, whether they differ from those of nurses and, if so, how this affects interprofessional relationships. We hypothesised that better understanding would guide new strategies to achieve more effective IPC. We interviewed 26 senior clinicians (16 doctors and 10 nurses) from a range of specialties, at a large Australian tertiary hospital. Interview transcripts were reviewed iteratively, and themes identified inductively, using reflexive thematic analysis. RESULTS: Participants from both professions painted clichéd portraits of 'typical' doctors and nurses and recounted unflattering anecdotes of their IPC behaviours. Doctors were described as self-directed and often unaware or disdainful of IPC rules; while nurses were portrayed as slavishly following rules, ostensibly to protect patients, irrespective of risk or evidence. Many participants believed that doctors object to being reminded of IPC requirements by nurses, despite many senior doctors having limited knowledge of correct IPC practice. Overall, participants' comments suggested that the 'doctor-nurse game'-described in the 1960s, to exemplify the complex power disparity between professions-is still in play, despite changes in both professions, in the interim. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that interprofessional differences and inconsistencies constrain IPC practice improvement. IPC inconsistencies and failures can be catastrophic, but the common threat of COVID-19 has promoted focus and unity. Appropriate implementation of IPC policies should be context-specific and respect the needs and expertise of all stakeholders. We propose an ethical framework to guide interprofessional collaboration in establishing a path towards sustained improvements in IPC and bio-preparedness.

2.
Infect Dis Health ; 27(2): 71-80, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1531344

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has challenged health systems globally. A key controversy has been how to protect healthcare workers (HCWs) using personal protective equipment (PPE). METHODS: Interviews were performed with 63 HCWs across two states in Australia to explore their experiences of PPE during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Thematic analysis was performed. RESULTS: Four themes were identified with respect to HCWs' experience of pandemic PPE: 1. Risk, fear and uncertainty: HCWs experienced considerable fear and heightened personal and professional risk, reporting anxiety about the adequacy of PPE and the resultant risk to themselves and their families. 2. Evidence and the ambiguities of evolving guidelines: forms of evidence, its interpretation, and the perception of rapidly changing guidelines heightened distress amongst HCWs. 3. Trust and care: Access to PPE signified organisational support and care, and restrictions on PPE use were considered a breach of trust. 4. Non-compliant practice in the context of social upheaval: despite communication of evidence-based guidelines, an environment of mistrust, personal risk, and organisational uncertainty resulted in variable compliance. CONCLUSION: PPE preferences and usage offer a material signifier of the broader, evolving pandemic context, reflecting HCWs' fear, mistrust, sense of inequity and social solidarity (or breakdown). PPE therefore represents the affective (emotional) demands of professional care, as well as a technical challenge of infection prevention and control. If rationing of PPE is necessary, policymakers need to take account of how HCWs will perceive restrictions or conflicting recommendations and build trust through effective communication (including of uncertainty).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Personal Protective Equipment , Australia , COVID-19/prevention & control , Health Personnel/psychology , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2
3.
Health Care Anal ; 30(2): 97-114, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1482242

ABSTRACT

Mobile phone-based applications (apps) can promote faster targeted actions to control COVID-19. However, digital contact tracing systems raise concerns about data security, system effectiveness, and their potential to normalise privacy-invasive surveillance technologies. In the absence of mandates, public uptake depends on the acceptability and perceived legitimacy of using technologies that log interactions between individuals to build public health capacity. We report on six online deliberative workshops convened in New South Wales to consider the appropriateness of using the COVIDSafe app to enhance Australian contact tracing systems. All groups took the position (by majority) that the protections enacted in the app design and supporting legislation were appropriate. This support is contingent on several system attributes including: the voluntariness of the COVIDSafe app; that the system relies on proximity rather than location tracking; and, that data access is restricted to local public health practitioners undertaking contact tracing. Despite sustained scepticism in media coverage, there was an underlying willingness to trust Australian governing institutions such that in principle acceptance of the new contact tracing technology was easy to obtain. However, tensions between the need to prove system effectiveness through operational transparency and requirements for privacy protections could be limiting public uptake. Our study shows that informed citizens are willing to trade their privacy for common goods such as COVID-19 suppression. But low case numbers and cautionary public discourses can make trustworthiness difficult to establish because some will only do so when it can be demonstrated that the benefits justify the costs to individuals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Mobile Applications , Australia/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Contact Tracing , Humans , Privacy
4.
Health Place ; 72: 102693, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1458860

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight both global interconnectedness and schisms across place, context and peoples. While countries such as Australia have securitised their borders in response to the global spread of disease, flows of information and collective affect continue to permeate these boundaries. Drawing on interviews with Australian healthcare workers, we examine how their experiences of the pandemic are shaped by affect and evidence 'traveling' across time and space. Our analysis points to the limitations of global health crisis responses that focus solely on material risk and spatial separation. Institutional responses must, we suggest, also consider the affective and discursive dimensions of health-related risk environments.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Australia/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care , Health Personnel , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
5.
BMJ Open ; 10(11): e041592, 2020 11 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-934093

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: As governments attempt to navigate a path out of COVID-19 restrictions, robust evidence is essential to inform requirements for public acceptance of technologically enhanced communicable disease surveillance systems. We examined the value of core surveillance system attributes to the Australian public, before and during the early stages of the current pandemic. DESIGN: A discrete choice experiment was conducted in Australia with a representative group of respondents, before and after the WHO declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. We identified and investigated the relative importance of seven attributes associated with technologically enhanced disease surveillance: respect for personal autonomy; privacy/confidentiality; data certainty/confidence; data security; infectious disease mortality prevention; infectious disease morbidity prevention; and attribution of (causal) responsibility. Specifically, we explored how the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak influenced participant responses. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: 2008 Australians (general public) completed the experiment: 793 before COVID-19 outbreak onset (mean age 45.9 years, 50.2% male) and 1215 after onset (mean age 47.2 years, 49% male). RESULTS: All seven attributes significantly influenced respondents' preferences for communicable disease surveillance systems. After onset, participants demonstrated greater preference for a surveillance system that could prevent a higher number of illnesses and deaths, and were less concerned about their personal autonomy. However, they also increased their preference for a system with high data security. CONCLUSIONS: Public acceptance of technology-based communicable disease surveillance is situation dependent. During an epidemic, there is likely to be greater tolerance of technologically enhanced disease surveillance systems that result in restrictions on personal activity if such systems can prevent high morbidity and mortality. However, this acceptance of lower personal autonomy comes with an increased requirement to ensure data security. These findings merit further research as the pandemic unfolds and strategies are put in place that enable individuals and societies to live with SARS-CoV-2 endemicity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2 , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Australia/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Young Adult
9.
Infect Dis Health ; 25(4): 253-261, 2020 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-618670

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Using personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of several fundamental measures to prevent the transmission of infection and infectious diseases and is particularly pertinent in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Appropriate use of PPE by healthcare workers is, however, often suboptimal. Training and monitoring of PPE competency are essential components of an infection prevention and control program but there is a paucity of research and data on the content of such training programs across Australasia. This paper reports the results of a survey that characterised the nature of PPE training in Australian and New Zealand hospitals. METHODS: A population-based online survey was distributed to members of three major Australasian colleges representing infection prevention and control. RESULTS: Results indicate that, although training is frequently provided at orientation, many healthcare workers do not receive regular updates. Training programmes combine online and classroom sessions, but over a third do not include a practical component. The frequency of monitoring PPE competency is variable with one third of respondents indicating that no auditing occurs. PPE items used for high-level training are variable, with use of powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) uncommon. CONCLUSION: The results of this study suggest that HCWs' confidence, competence and familiarity with PPE are a concern, which in the context of the current global COVID-19 pandemic is problematic. More research is needed into how PPE training programs could be better designed, to prepare HCWs for practice using PPE safely and confidently.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Health Personnel/education , Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Personal Protective Equipment , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Australasia , Australia , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Cross-Sectional Studies , Hospitals , Humans , Infection Control/methods , New Zealand , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Respiratory Protective Devices , SARS-CoV-2 , Surveys and Questionnaires
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