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1.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev ; 6: CD015397, 2022 06 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1877543

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: With the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in late 2019, governments worldwide implemented a multitude of non-pharmaceutical interventions in order to control the spread of the virus. Most countries have implemented measures within the school setting in order to reopen schools or keep them open whilst aiming to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. For informed decision-making on implementation, adaptation, or suspension of such measures, it is not only crucial to evaluate their effectiveness with regard to SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but also to assess their unintended consequences. OBJECTIVES: To comprehensively identify and map the evidence on the unintended health and societal consequences of school-based measures to prevent and control the spread of SARS-CoV-2. We aimed to generate a descriptive overview of the range of unintended (beneficial or harmful) consequences reported as well as the study designs that were employed to assess these outcomes. This review was designed to complement an existing Cochrane Review on the effectiveness of these measures by synthesising evidence on the implications of the broader system-level implications of school measures beyond their effects on SARS-CoV-2 transmission. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase, four non-health databases, and two COVID-19 reference collections on 26 March 2021, together with reference checking, citation searching, and Google searches. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included quantitative (including mathematical modelling), qualitative, and mixed-methods studies of any design that provided evidence on any unintended consequences of measures implemented in the school setting to contain the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Studies had to report on at least one unintended consequence, whether beneficial or harmful, of one or more relevant measures, as conceptualised in a logic model.  DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We screened the titles/abstracts and subsequently full texts in duplicate, with any discrepancies between review authors resolved through discussion. One review author extracted data for all included studies, with a second review author reviewing the data extraction for accuracy. The evidence was summarised narratively and graphically across four prespecified intervention categories and six prespecified categories of unintended consequences; findings were described as deriving from quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method studies. MAIN RESULTS: Eighteen studies met our inclusion criteria. Of these, 13 used quantitative methods (3 experimental/quasi-experimental; 5 observational; 5 modelling); four used qualitative methods; and one used mixed methods. Studies looked at effects in different population groups, mainly in children and teachers. The identified interventions were assigned to four broad categories: 14 studies assessed measures to make contacts safer; four studies looked at measures to reduce contacts; six studies assessed surveillance and response measures; and one study examined multiple measures combined. Studies addressed a wide range of unintended consequences, most of them considered harmful. Eleven studies investigated educational consequences. Seven studies reported on psychosocial outcomes. Three studies each provided information on physical health and health behaviour outcomes beyond COVID-19 and environmental consequences. Two studies reported on socio-economic consequences, and no studies reported on equity and equality consequences. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: We identified a heterogeneous evidence base on unintended consequences of measures implemented in the school setting to prevent and control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and summarised the available study data narratively and graphically. Primary research better focused on specific measures and various unintended outcomes is needed to fill knowledge gaps and give a broader picture of the diverse unintended consequences of school-based measures before a more thorough evidence synthesis is warranted. The most notable lack of evidence we found was regarding psychosocial, equity, and equality outcomes. We also found a lack of research on interventions that aim to reduce the opportunity for contacts. Additionally, study investigators should provide sufficient data on contextual factors and demographics in order to ensure analyses of such are feasible, thus assisting stakeholders in making appropriate, informed decisions for their specific circumstances.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools
2.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev ; 1: CD015029, 2022 01 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1802012

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In response to the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), governments have implemented a variety of measures to control the spread of the virus and the associated disease. Among these, have been measures to control the pandemic in primary and secondary school settings. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of measures implemented in the school setting to safely reopen schools, or keep schools open, or both, during the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular focus on the different types of measures implemented in school settings and the outcomes used to measure their impacts on transmission-related outcomes, healthcare utilisation outcomes, other health outcomes as well as societal, economic, and ecological outcomes.  SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase, and the Educational Resources Information Center, as well as COVID-19-specific databases, including the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register and the WHO COVID-19 Global literature on coronavirus disease (indexing preprints) on 9 December 2020. We conducted backward-citation searches with existing reviews. SELECTION CRITERIA: We considered experimental (i.e. randomised controlled trials; RCTs), quasi-experimental, observational and modelling studies assessing the effects of measures implemented in the school setting to safely reopen schools, or keep schools open, or both, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Outcome categories were (i) transmission-related outcomes (e.g. number or proportion of cases); (ii) healthcare utilisation outcomes (e.g. number or proportion of hospitalisations); (iii) other health outcomes (e.g. physical, social and mental health); and (iv) societal, economic and ecological outcomes (e.g. costs, human resources and education). We considered studies that included any population at risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and/or developing COVID-19 disease including students, teachers, other school staff, or members of the wider community.  DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently screened titles, abstracts and full texts. One review author extracted data and critically appraised each study. One additional review author validated the extracted data. To critically appraise included studies, we used the ROBINS-I tool for quasi-experimental and observational studies, the QUADAS-2 tool for observational screening studies, and a bespoke tool for modelling studies. We synthesised findings narratively. Three review authors made an initial assessment of the certainty of evidence with GRADE, and several review authors discussed and agreed on the ratings. MAIN RESULTS: We included 38 unique studies in the analysis, comprising 33 modelling studies, three observational studies, one quasi-experimental and one experimental study with modelling components. Measures fell into four broad categories: (i) measures reducing the opportunity for contacts; (ii) measures making contacts safer; (iii) surveillance and response measures; and (iv) multicomponent measures. As comparators, we encountered the operation of schools with no measures in place, less intense measures in place, single versus multicomponent measures in place, or closure of schools. Across all intervention categories and all study designs, very low- to low-certainty evidence ratings limit our confidence in the findings. Concerns with the quality of modelling studies related to potentially inappropriate assumptions about the model structure and input parameters, and an inadequate assessment of model uncertainty. Concerns with risk of bias in observational studies related to deviations from intended interventions or missing data. Across all categories, few studies reported on implementation or described how measures were implemented. Where we describe effects as 'positive', the direction of the point estimate of the effect favours the intervention(s); 'negative' effects do not favour the intervention.  We found 23 modelling studies assessing measures reducing the opportunity for contacts (i.e. alternating attendance, reduced class size). Most of these studies assessed transmission and healthcare utilisation outcomes, and all of these studies showed a reduction in transmission (e.g. a reduction in the number or proportion of cases, reproduction number) and healthcare utilisation (i.e. fewer hospitalisations) and mixed or negative effects on societal, economic and ecological outcomes (i.e. fewer number of days spent in school). We identified 11 modelling studies and two observational studies assessing measures making contacts safer (i.e. mask wearing, cleaning, handwashing, ventilation). Five studies assessed the impact of combined measures to make contacts safer. They assessed transmission-related, healthcare utilisation, other health, and societal, economic and ecological outcomes. Most of these studies showed a reduction in transmission, and a reduction in hospitalisations; however, studies showed mixed or negative effects on societal, economic and ecological outcomes (i.e. fewer number of days spent in school). We identified 13 modelling studies and one observational study assessing surveillance and response measures, including testing and isolation, and symptomatic screening and isolation. Twelve studies focused on mass testing and isolation measures, while two looked specifically at symptom-based screening and isolation. Outcomes included transmission, healthcare utilisation, other health, and societal, economic and ecological outcomes. Most of these studies showed effects in favour of the intervention in terms of reductions in transmission and hospitalisations, however some showed mixed or negative effects on societal, economic and ecological outcomes (e.g. fewer number of days spent in school). We found three studies that reported outcomes relating to multicomponent measures, where it was not possible to disaggregate the effects of each individual intervention, including one modelling, one observational and one quasi-experimental study. These studies employed interventions, such as physical distancing, modification of school activities, testing, and exemption of high-risk students, using measures such as hand hygiene and mask wearing. Most of these studies showed a reduction in transmission, however some showed mixed or no effects.   As the majority of studies included in the review were modelling studies, there was a lack of empirical, real-world data, which meant that there were very little data on the actual implementation of interventions. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Our review suggests that a broad range of measures implemented in the school setting can have positive impacts on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and on healthcare utilisation outcomes related to COVID-19. The certainty of the evidence for most intervention-outcome combinations is very low, and the true effects of these measures are likely to be substantially different from those reported here. Measures implemented in the school setting may limit the number or proportion of cases and deaths, and may delay the progression of the pandemic. However, they may also lead to negative unintended consequences, such as fewer days spent in school (beyond those intended by the intervention). Further, most studies assessed the effects of a combination of interventions, which could not be disentangled to estimate their specific effects. Studies assessing measures to reduce contacts and to make contacts safer consistently predicted positive effects on transmission and healthcare utilisation, but may reduce the number of days students spent at school. Studies assessing surveillance and response measures predicted reductions in hospitalisations and school days missed due to infection or quarantine, however, there was mixed evidence on resources needed for surveillance. Evidence on multicomponent measures was mixed, mostly due to comparators. The magnitude of effects depends on multiple factors. New studies published since the original search date might heavily influence the overall conclusions and interpretation of findings for this review.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Observational Studies as Topic , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools
3.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev ; 12: CD013812, 2020 12 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1557400

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In response to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the impact of COVID-19, national and subnational governments implemented a variety of measures in order to control the spread of the virus and the associated disease. While these measures were imposed with the intention of controlling the pandemic, they were also associated with severe psychosocial, societal, and economic implications on a societal level. One setting affected heavily by these measures is the school setting. By mid-April 2020, 192 countries had closed schools, affecting more than 90% of the world's student population. In consideration of the adverse consequences of school closures, many countries around the world reopened their schools in the months after the initial closures. To safely reopen schools and keep them open, governments implemented a broad range of measures. The evidence with regards to these measures, however, is heterogeneous, with a multitude of study designs, populations, settings, interventions and outcomes being assessed. To make sense of this heterogeneity, we conducted a rapid scoping review (8 October to 5 November 2020). This rapid scoping review is intended to serve as a precursor to a systematic review of effectiveness, which will inform guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). This review is reported in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) checklist and was registered with the Open Science Framework. OBJECTIVES: To identify and comprehensively map the evidence assessing the impacts of measures implemented in the school setting to reopen schools, or keep schools open, or both, during the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic, with particular focus on the types of measures implemented in different school settings, the outcomes used to measure their impacts and the study types used to assess these. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register, MEDLINE, Embase, the CDC COVID-19 Research Articles Downloadable Database for preprints, and the WHO COVID-19 Global literature on coronavirus disease on 8 October 2020. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included studies that assessed the impact of measures implemented in the school setting. Eligible populations were populations at risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, or developing COVID-19 disease, or both, and included people both directly and indirectly impacted by interventions, including students, teachers, other school staff, and contacts of these groups, as well as the broader community. We considered all types of empirical studies, which quantitatively assessed impact including epidemiological studies, modelling studies, mixed-methods studies, and diagnostic studies that assessed the impact of relevant interventions beyond diagnostic test accuracy. Broad outcome categories of interest included infectious disease transmission-related outcomes, other harmful or beneficial health-related outcomes, and societal, economic, and ecological implications. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We extracted data from included studies in a standardized manner, and mapped them to categories within our a priori logic model where possible. Where not possible, we inductively developed new categories. In line with standard expectations for scoping reviews, the review provides an overview of the existing evidence regardless of methodological quality or risk of bias, and was not designed to synthesize effectiveness data, assess risk of bias, or characterize strength of evidence (GRADE). MAIN RESULTS: We included 42 studies that assessed measures implemented in the school setting. The majority of studies used mathematical modelling designs (n = 31), while nine studies used observational designs, and two studies used experimental or quasi-experimental designs. Studies conducted in real-world contexts or using real data focused on the WHO European region (EUR; n = 20), the WHO region of the Americas (AMR; n = 13), the West Pacific region (WPR; n = 6), and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR; n = 1). One study conducted a global assessment and one did not report on data from, or that were applicable to, a specific country. Three broad intervention categories emerged from the included studies: organizational measures to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (n = 36), structural/environmental measures to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (n = 11), and surveillance and response measures to detect SARS-CoV-2 infections (n = 19). Most studies assessed SARS-CoV-2 transmission-related outcomes (n = 29), while others assessed healthcare utilization (n = 8), other health outcomes (n = 3), and societal, economic, and ecological outcomes (n = 5). Studies assessed both harmful and beneficial outcomes across all outcome categories. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: We identified a heterogeneous and complex evidence base of measures implemented in the school setting. This review is an important first step in understanding the available evidence and will inform the development of rapid reviews on this topic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools/organization & administration , Administrative Personnel , Humans , School Teachers , Students
4.
J Travel Med ; 28(7)2021 10 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1348060

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: International travel measures to contain the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic represent a relatively intrusive form of non-pharmaceutical intervention. To inform decision-making on the (re)implementation, adaptation, relaxation or suspension of such measures, it is essential to not only assess their effectiveness but also their unintended effects. METHODS: This scoping review maps existing empirical studies on the unintended consequences, both predicted and unforeseen, and beneficial or harmful, of international travel measures. We searched multiple health, non-health and COVID-19-specific databases. The evidence was charted in a map in relation to the study design, intervention and outcome categories identified and discussed narratively. RESULTS: Twenty-three studies met our inclusion criteria-nine quasi-experimental, two observational, two mathematical modelling, six qualitative and four mixed-methods studies. Studies addressed different population groups across various countries worldwide. Seven studies provided information on unintended consequences of the closure of national borders, six looked at international travel restrictions and three investigated mandatory quarantine of international travellers. No studies looked at entry and/or exit screening at national borders exclusively, however six studies considered this intervention in combination with other international travel measures. In total, 11 studies assessed various combinations of the aforementioned interventions. The outcomes were mostly referred to by the authors as harmful. Fifteen studies identified a variety of economic consequences, six reported on aspects related to quality of life, well-being, and mental health and five on social consequences. One study each provided information on equity, equality, and the fair distribution of benefits and burdens, environmental consequences and health system consequences. CONCLUSION: This scoping review represents the first step towards a systematic assessment of the unintended benefits and harms of international travel measures during COVID-19. The key research gaps identified might be filled with targeted primary research, as well as the additional consideration of gray literature and non-empirical studies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Quality of Life , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2
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