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1.
SSM Qualitative research in health ; 2023.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-2283016

ABSTRACT

Implementation studies rarely examine how health interventions are delivered in emergencies. Informed by May's general theory of implementation (GTI), we undertook qualitative longitudinal research to investigate how schools in England implemented Covid-19-prevention measures and how this evolved over the 2020–2021 school year in a rapidly changing epidemiological and policy context. We conducted 74 semi-structured interviews over two time-points with headteachers, teachers, parents and students across eight primary and secondary schools. School leaders rapidly made sense of government guidance despite many challenges. They developed and disseminated prevention plans to staff, parents and students. As defined by GTI, ‘cognitive participation' and ‘collective action' to enact handwashing, one-way systems within schools and enhanced cleaning were sustained over time. However, measures such as physical distancing and placing students in separated groups were perceived to conflict with schools' mission to promote student education and wellbeing. Commitment to implement these was initially high during the emergency phase but later fluctuated dependant on perceived risk and local disease epidemiology. They were not considered sustainable in the long term. Adherence to some measures, such as wearing face-coverings, initially considered unworkable, improved as they were routinised. Implementing home-based asymptomatic testing was considered feasible. Formal and informal processes of ‘reflexive monitoring' by staff informed improvements in intervention workability and implementation. Leaders also developed skills and confidence, deciding on locally appropriate actions, some of which deviated from official guidance. However, over time, accumulating staff burnout and absence eroded school capacity to collectively enact implementation. Qualitative longitudinal research allowed us to understand how implementation in an emergency involved the above emergent processes. GTI was useful in understanding school implementation processes in a pandemic context but may need adaptation to take into account the changing and sometimes contradictory objectives, time-varying factors and feedback loops that can characterise implementation of health interventions in emergencies.

2.
J Sch Health ; 2022 Nov 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2283015

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We examined fidelity and feasibility of implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures in schools, and explored associations between adherence to these measures and staff well-being, to inform policy on sustainable implementation and staff wellbeing. METHODS: Surveys were conducted across 128 schools in England with 107 headteachers and 2698 staff-members with reference to autumn term 2020, examining school-level implementation of preventive measures, adherence, and teacher burnout (response rates for headteacher and staff surveys were 84% and 59%, respectively). RESULTS: The median number of measures implemented in primary and secondary schools was 33 (range 23-41), and 32 (range 22-40), respectively; most measures presented challenges. No differences were found regarding number of measures implemented by school-level socio-economic disadvantage. High adherence was reported for staff wearing face-coverings, staff regularly washing their hands, (secondary only) desks facing forwards, and (primary only) increased cleaning of surfaces and student hand-washing. Adherence to most measures was reported as higher in primary than secondary schools. Over half of school leaders and 42% (517/1234) of other teaching staff suffered from high emotional exhaustion. Higher teacher-reported school-wide adherence with measures was consistently associated with lower burnout for leaders and other teaching staff. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate a tremendous effort in implementing preventive measures and an urgent need to support investments in improving teacher wellbeing.

3.
SSM Qual Res Health ; 3: 100257, 2023 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2283017

ABSTRACT

Implementation studies rarely examine how health interventions are delivered in emergencies. Informed by May's general theory of implementation (GTI), we undertook qualitative longitudinal research to investigate how schools in England implemented Covid-19-prevention measures and how this evolved over the 2020-2021 school year in a rapidly changing epidemiological and policy context. We conducted 74 semi-structured interviews over two time-points with headteachers, teachers, parents and students across eight primary and secondary schools. School leaders rapidly made sense of government guidance despite many challenges. They developed and disseminated prevention plans to staff, parents and students. As defined by GTI, 'cognitive participation' and 'collective action' to enact handwashing, one-way systems within schools and enhanced cleaning were sustained over time. However, measures such as physical distancing and placing students in separated groups were perceived to conflict with schools' mission to promote student education and wellbeing. Commitment to implement these was initially high during the emergency phase but later fluctuated dependant on perceived risk and local disease epidemiology. They were not considered sustainable in the long term. Adherence to some measures, such as wearing face-coverings, initially considered unworkable, improved as they were routinised. Implementing home-based asymptomatic testing was considered feasible. Formal and informal processes of 'reflexive monitoring' by staff informed improvements in intervention workability and implementation. Leaders also developed skills and confidence, deciding on locally appropriate actions, some of which deviated from official guidance. However, over time, accumulating staff burnout and absence eroded school capacity to collectively enact implementation. Qualitative longitudinal research allowed us to understand how implementation in an emergency involved the above emergent processes. GTI was useful in understanding school implementation processes in a pandemic context but may need adaptation to take into account the changing and sometimes contradictory objectives, time-varying factors and feedback loops that can characterise implementation of health interventions in emergencies.

4.
BMC Infect Dis ; 23(1): 201, 2023 Apr 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2286345

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Both post-COVID-19 condition (long COVID) and the presence of persisting symptoms that do not meet formal definitions of post-COVID-19-condition may adversely affect quality of life and function. However, their prevalence among children and young people in England is unclear. METHODS: We used data from repeated surveys in a large cohort of English schoolchildren from the COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey (SIS) for the school year 2021/22 to describe the weighted prevalence of post-COVID-19-condition and compare persisting symptoms between individuals with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test and those with neither a positive test history nor suspected infection. RESULTS: Among 7797 children from 173 schools, 1.8% of primary school pupils (aged 4 to 11 years), 4.5% of secondary school pupils in years 7-11 (aged 11 to 16 years) and 6.9% of those in years 12-13 (aged 16 to 18 years) met a definition of post-COVID-19 condition in March 2022. Specific persisting symptoms such as anxiety or difficulty concentrating were frequently reported regardless of prior infection status and increased with age: 48.0% of primary school pupils, 52.9% of secondary school pupils in years 7-11 and 79.5% in years 12-13 reporting at least one symptom lasting more than 12 weeks. Persisting loss of smell and taste, cardiovascular and some systemic symptoms were more frequently reported by those with a previous positive test. CONCLUSIONS: We showed that ongoing symptoms were frequently reported by English schoolchildren regardless of SARS-CoV-2 test results and some specific symptoms such as loss of smell and taste were more prevalent in those with a positive test history. Our study emphasises the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and wellbeing of children and young people.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Child , Humans , Adolescent , Middle Aged , Anosmia , Pandemics , Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome , Quality of Life , SARS-CoV-2
5.
J Infect ; 86(4): 361-368, 2023 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2244325

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 infection rates are likely to be underestimated in children because of asymptomatic or mild infections. We aim to estimate national and regional prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in primary (4-11 years old) and secondary (11-18 years old) school children between 10 November and 10 December 2021. METHODS: Cross-sectional surveillance in England using two-stage sampling, firstly stratifying into regions and selecting local authorities, then selecting schools according to a stratified sample within selected local authorities. Participants were sampled using a novel oral fluid-validated assay for SARS-CoV-2 spike and nucleocapsid IgG antibodies. RESULTS: 4980 students from 117 state-funded schools (2706 from 83 primary schools, 2274 from 34 secondary schools) provided a valid sample. After weighting for age, sex, and ethnicity, and adjusting for assay accuracy, the national prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in primary school students, who were all unvaccinated, was 40.1% (95% CI 37.3-43.0). Antibody prevalence increased with age (p < 0.001) and was higher in urban than rural schools (p = 0.01). In secondary school students, the adjusted, weighted national prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was 82.4% (95% CI 79.5-85.1); including 71.5% (95% CI 65.7-76.8) in unvaccinated and 97.5% (95% CI 96.1-98.5) in vaccinated students. Antibody prevalence increased with age (p < 0.001), and was not significantly different in urban versus rural students (p = 0.1). CONCLUSIONS: In November 2021, using a validated oral fluid assay, national SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence was estimated to be 40.1% in primary school students and 82.4% in secondary school students. In unvaccinated children, this was approximately threefold higher than confirmed infections highlighting the importance of seroprevalence studies to estimate prior exposure. DATA AVAILABILITY: Deidentified study data are available for access by accredited researchers in the ONS Secure Research Service (SRS) for accredited research purposes under part 5, chapter 5 of the Digital Economy Act 2017. For further information about accreditation, contact Research.support@ons.gov.uk or visit the SRS website.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Child , Humans , Child, Preschool , Adolescent , Cohort Studies , Cross-Sectional Studies , Prevalence , Seroepidemiologic Studies , COVID-19/epidemiology , Antibodies, Viral , England/epidemiology , Schools
6.
Lancet Glob Health ; 9(12): e1707-e1718, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1516469

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Diarrhoeal diseases are an important cause of mortality in children younger than 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa. We aimed to evaluate the effect of three handwashing interventions on handwashing with soap (HWWS) after toilet use. METHODS: In this cluster randomised trial in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, we randomly assigned communal housing compounds (1:1:1) to receive one of three interventions: a theory of normative social behaviour (TNSB) intervention, including provision of handwashing stations; handwashing stations only; and no intervention. The TNSB intervention was designed to shift the outcome expectation associated with HWWS from health to riddance of faeces-related disgust, and to increase the perceived descriptive norm and perceived handwashing publicness. Participants and fieldworkers were masked to the study objectives. The primary outcome was HWWS after toilet use, assessed at 1 month and 5 months follow-ups. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered at the Pan African Clinical Trial Registry, PACTR201501000892239. FINDINGS: Between April 10 and May 22, 2014, we identified 92 eligible compounds, of which 75 compounds were included. Follow-up data on HWWS were available for 23 compounds for the TNSB group, 25 compounds for the handwashing station-only group, and 25 compounds for the control group. The study ended in April, 2017. Compared with a frequency of 5% (29 of 604 occasions) in the control group, HWWS after toilet use increased to 9% (49 of 557 occasions; adjusted risk ratio 1·89, 95% CI 1·16-3·08) in the handwashing station-only group, and 24% (143 of 588 occasions; 4·82, 3·06-7·59) in the TNSB group, at the 1-month follow-up. The intervention effect was only sustained in the TNSB group (98 [22%] of 450 compounds; 2·68, 1·65-4·34). INTERPRETATION: A social norm-based handwashing intervention combined with disgust-inducing messages, with provision of handwashing stations, was effective at increasing HWWS after toilet use. The provision of handwashing stations alone had little effect. Future studies should investigate whether the same approach, when delivered via mass media, can have a similar effect to the face-to-face delivery used in this study. FUNDING: None.


Subject(s)
Diarrhea/prevention & control , Hand Disinfection/methods , Health Education/methods , Soaps/therapeutic use , Child , Child, Preschool , Cote d'Ivoire , Humans , Male , Sanitation/methods
7.
Int J Infect Dis ; 128: 230-243, 2023 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2165390

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Investigate risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infections in school students and staff. METHODS: In the 2020/2021 school year, we administered polymerase chain reaction, antibody tests, and questionnaires to a sample of primary and secondary school students and staff, with data linkage to COVID-19 surveillance. We fitted logistic regression models to identify the factors associated with infection. RESULTS: We included 6799 students and 5090 staff in the autumn and 11,952 students and 4569 staff in the spring/summer terms. Infections in students in autumn 2020 were related to the percentage of students eligible for free school meals. We found no statistical association between infection risk in primary and secondary schools and reported contact patterns between students and staff in either period in our study. Using public transports was associated with increased risk in autumn in students (adjusted odds ratio = 1.72; 95% confidence interval 1.31-2.25) and staff. One or more infections in the same household during either period was the strongest risk factor for infection in students and more so among staff. CONCLUSION: Deprivation, community, and household factors were more strongly associated with infection than contacts patterns at school; this suggests that the additional school-based mitigation measures in England in 2020/2021 likely helped reduce transmission risk in schools.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Risk Factors , England , Schools , Students
8.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0262515, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1688746

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Following the full re-opening of schools in England and emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant, we investigated the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in students and staff who were contacts of a confirmed case in a school bubble (school groupings with limited interactions), along with their household members. METHODS: Primary and secondary school bubbles were recruited into sKIDsBUBBLE after being sent home to self-isolate following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the bubble. Bubble participants and their household members were sent home-testing kits comprising nasal swabs for RT-PCR testing and whole genome sequencing, and oral fluid swabs for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. RESULTS: During November-December 2020, 14 bubbles were recruited from 7 schools, including 269 bubble contacts (248 students, 21 staff) and 823 household contacts (524 adults, 299 children). The secondary attack rate was 10.0% (6/60) in primary and 3.9% (4/102) in secondary school students, compared to 6.3% (1/16) and 0% (0/1) among staff, respectively. The incidence rate for household contacts of primary school students was 6.6% (12/183) and 3.7% (1/27) for household contacts of primary school staff. In secondary schools, this was 3.5% (11/317) and 0% (0/1), respectively. Household contacts were more likely to test positive if their bubble contact tested positive although there were new infections among household contacts of uninfected bubble contacts. INTERPRETATION: Compared to other institutional settings, the overall risk of secondary infection in school bubbles and their household contacts was low. Our findings are important for developing evidence-based infection prevention guidelines for educational settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Adolescent , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/virology , Child , Contact Tracing , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Nasopharynx/virology , Prospective Studies , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Schools/statistics & numerical data , Students/statistics & numerical data
9.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 21: 100471, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1996406

ABSTRACT

Background: There remains uncertainty about the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 among school students and staff and the extent to which non-pharmaceutical-interventions reduce the risk of school settings. Methods: We conducted an open cohort study in a sample of 59 primary and 97 secondary schools in 15 English local authority areas that were implementing government guidance to schools open during the pandemic. We estimated SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence among those attending school, antibody prevalence, and antibody negative to positive conversion rates in staff and students over the school year (November 2020-July 2021). Findings: 22,585 staff and students participated. SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence among those attending school was highest during the first two rounds of testing in the autumn term, ranging from 0.7% (95% CI 0.2, 1.2) among primary staff in November 2020 to 1.6% (95% CI 0.9, 2.3) among secondary staff in December 2020. Antibody conversion rates were highest in the autumn term. Infection patterns were similar between staff and students, and between primary and secondary schools. The prevalence of nucleoprotein antibodies increased over the year and was lower among students than staff. SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence in the North-West region was lower among secondary students attending school on normal school days than the regional estimate for secondary school-age children. Interpretation: SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence in staff and students attending school varied with local community infection rates. Non-pharmaceutical interventions intended to prevent infected individuals attending school may have partially reduced the prevalence of infection among those on the school site. Funding: UK Department of Health and Social Care.

10.
JMIR Res Protoc ; 11(11): e34075, 2022 11 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1875278

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: One of the most debated questions in the COVID-19 pandemic has been the role of schools in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey (SIS) aims to provide much-needed evidence addressing this issue. OBJECTIVE: We present the study protocol and participation profile for the SIS study, aimed at assessing the role of schools in SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission within school settings, and investigating how transmission within and from schools could be mitigated through the implementation of school COVID-19 control measures. METHODS: SIS was a multisite, prospective, observational cohort study conducted in a stratified random sample of primary and secondary schools in selected local authorities in England. A total of 6 biobehavioral surveys were planned among participating students and staff during the 2020-2021 academic year, between November 2020 and July 2021. Key measurements were SARS-CoV-2 virus prevalence, assessed by nasal swab polymerase chain reaction; anti-SARS-CoV-2 (nucleocapsid protein) antibody prevalence and conversion, assessed in finger-prick blood for staff and oral fluid for students; student and staff school attendance rates; feasibility and acceptability of school-level implementation of SARS-CoV-2 control measures; and investigation of selected school outbreaks. The study was approved by the United Kingdom Health Security Agency Research Support and Governance Office (NR0237) and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Ethics Review Committee (reference 22657). RESULTS: Data collection and laboratory analyses were completed by September 2021. A total of 22,585 individuals-1891 staff and 4654 students from 59 primary schools and 5852 staff and 10,188 students from 97 secondary schools-participated in at least one survey. Across all survey rounds, staff and student participation rates were 45.2% and 16.4%, respectively, in primary schools and 30% and 15.2%, respectively, in secondary schools. Although primary student participation increased over time, and secondary student participation remained reasonably consistent, staff participation declined across rounds, especially for secondary school staff (3165/7583, 41.7% in round 1 and 2290/10,374, 22.1% in round 6). Although staff participation overall was generally reflective of the eligible staff population, student participation was higher in schools with low absenteeism, a lower proportion of students eligible for free school meals, and from schools in the least deprived locations (in primary schools, 446/4654, 9.6% of participating students were from schools in the least deprived quintile compared with 1262/22,225, 5.7% of eligible students). CONCLUSIONS: We outline the study design, methods, and participation, and reflect on the strengths of the SIS study as well as the practical challenges encountered and the strategies implemented to address these challenges. The SIS study, by measuring current and incident infection over time, alongside the implementation of control measures in schools across a range of settings in England, aims to inform national guidance and public health policy for educational settings. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR1-10.2196/34075.

11.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e048929, 2022 04 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1794502

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To design and test the psychometric properties of four context-specific norm-related scales around handwashing with soap after toilet use: (1) perceived handwashing descriptive norms (HWDN); (2) perceived handwashing injunctive norms (HWIN); (3) perceived handwashing behaviour publicness (HWP); and (4) perceived handwashing outcome expectations (HWOE). DESIGN: Scale items were developed based on previous work and pilot tested in an iterative process. Content experts and members of the study team assessed the face validity of the items. The psychometric properties of the scales were assessed in a cross-sectional study. SETTING: The study was conducted in communal housing compounds in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. PARTICIPANTS: A convenience sample of 201 adult residents (≥16 years old) from 60 housing compounds completed the final questionnaire. OUTCOME MEASURE: Confirmatory factor analysis was used to assess the goodness of fit of the global model. We assessed the internal consistency of each scale using Cronbach's alpha (α) and the Spearman-Brown coefficient (ρ). RESULTS: The results of the psychometric tests supported the construct validity of three of the four scales, with no factor identified for the HWOE (α=0.15). The HWDN and HWP scales were internally consistent with correlations of ρ=0.74 and ρ=0.63, respectively. The HWIN scale appeared reliable (α=0.83). CONCLUSION: We were able to design three reliable context-specific handwashing norm-related scales, specific to economically disadvantaged community settings in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, but failed to construct a reliable scale to measure outcome expectations around handwashing. The social desirability of handwashing and the narrow content area of social norms constructs relating to handwashing present significant challenges when designing items to measure such constructs. Future studies attempting to measure handwashing norm-related constructs will need to take this into account when developing such scales, and take care to adapt their scales to their study context.


Subject(s)
Hand Disinfection , Social Norms , Adolescent , Adult , Cote d'Ivoire , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Psychometrics , Reproducibility of Results , Surveys and Questionnaires
12.
Influenza Other Respir Viruses ; 15(4): 495-505, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1262334

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Influenza surveillance helps time prevention and control interventions especially where complex seasonal patterns exist. We assessed influenza surveillance sustainability in Africa where influenza activity varies and external funds for surveillance have decreased. METHODS: We surveyed African Network for Influenza Surveillance and Epidemiology (ANISE) countries about 2011-2017 surveillance system characteristics. Data were summarized with descriptive statistics and analyzed with univariate and multivariable analyses to quantify sustained or expanded influenza surveillance capacity in Africa. RESULTS: Eighteen (75%) of 24 ANISE members participated in the survey; their cumulative population of 710 751 471 represent 56% of Africa's total population. All 18 countries scored a mean 95% on WHO laboratory quality assurance panels. The number of samples collected from severe acute respiratory infection case-patients remained consistent between 2011 and 2017 (13 823 vs 13 674 respectively) but decreased by 12% for influenza-like illness case-patients (16 210 vs 14 477). Nine (50%) gained capacity to lineage-type influenza B. The number of countries reporting each week to WHO FluNet increased from 15 (83%) in 2011 to 17 (94%) in 2017. CONCLUSIONS: Despite declines in external surveillance funding, ANISE countries gained additional laboratory testing capacity and continued influenza testing and reporting to WHO. These gains represent important achievements toward sustainable surveillance and epidemic/pandemic preparedness.


Subject(s)
Influenza, Human , Respiratory Tract Infections , Africa/epidemiology , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Pandemics , Respiratory Tract Infections/epidemiology , Surveys and Questionnaires
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