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1.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(11)2022 May 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1869581

ABSTRACT

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of populations and highlighted the limitations of mental health care systems. As the trajectory of the pandemic and the economic recovery are still uncertain, decision tools are needed to help evaluate the best interventions to improve mental health outcomes. We developed a system dynamics model that captures causal relationships among population, demographics, post-secondary education, health services, COVID-19 impact, and mental health outcomes. The study was conducted in the Australian state of Victoria. The model was calibrated using historical data and was stratified by age group and by geographic remoteness. Findings demonstrate that the most effective intervention combination includes economic, social, and health sector initiatives. Assertive post-suicide attempt care is the most impactful health sector intervention, but delaying implementation reduces the potency of its impact. Some evidence-based interventions, such as population-wide community awareness campaigns, are projected to worsen mental health outcomes when implemented on their own. Systems modelling offers a powerful decision-support tool to test alternative strategies for improving mental health outcomes in the Victorian context.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Mental Health , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Victoria/epidemiology
2.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 2884, 2022 May 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1860372

ABSTRACT

Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of acute respiratory infection with the most severe disease in the young and elderly. Non-pharmaceutical interventions and travel restrictions for controlling COVID-19 have impacted the circulation of most respiratory viruses including RSV globally, particularly in Australia, where during 2020 the normal winter epidemics were notably absent. However, in late 2020, unprecedented widespread RSV outbreaks occurred, beginning in spring, and extending into summer across two widely separated regions of the Australian continent, New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in the east, and Western Australia. Through genomic sequencing we reveal a major reduction in RSV genetic diversity following COVID-19 emergence with two genetically distinct RSV-A clades circulating cryptically, likely localised for several months prior to an epidemic surge in cases upon relaxation of COVID-19 control measures. The NSW/ACT clade subsequently spread to the neighbouring state of Victoria and to cause extensive outbreaks and hospitalisations in early 2021. These findings highlight the need for continued surveillance and sequencing of RSV and other respiratory viruses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, as mitigation measures may disrupt seasonal patterns, causing larger or more severe outbreaks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Infant , Pandemics/prevention & control , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/epidemiology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/prevention & control , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/genetics , Seasons , Victoria
3.
Commun Dis Intell (2018) ; 462022 May 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1856695

ABSTRACT

Background: In 2020, Victoria introduced multiple interventions aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We examine the effect of these restrictions on other vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs). Methods: We analysed the mandatory reporting data, notified to the Victorian Department of Health, for VPDs from January 2015 to December 2021. Results: Reductions in notifications were seen for most notifiable VPDs. A precipitous decline in influenza and measles notifications was recorded in April 2020, which was sustained for both diseases throughout 2020-2021. Notifications for chickenpox, invasive meningococcal disease, invasive pneumococcal disease, and pertussis were reduced by greater than 50% from the 2015-2019 average. No notified cases of diphtheria, poliomyelitis, or rubella were reported in 2020-2021. Conclusion: Restrictions placed to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were associated with significant reductions in other VPDs, which were sustained into 2021. Nevertheless, it is important that high levels of population vaccine coverage continue, to prevent a rebound increase in VPDs as restrictions are eased, and to maximise protection against VPDs for all Australians.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Vaccine-Preventable Diseases , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Vaccination , Vaccine-Preventable Diseases/epidemiology , Vaccine-Preventable Diseases/prevention & control , Victoria/epidemiology
4.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e053828, 2022 04 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1854337

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The evaluation of the Victorian Healthy Homes Program (VHHP) will generate evidence about the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of home upgrades to improve thermal comfort, reduce energy use and produce health and economic benefits to vulnerable households in Victoria, Australia. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The VHHP evaluation will use a staggered, parallel group clustered randomised controlled trial to test the home energy intervention in 1000 households. All households will receive the intervention either before (intervention group) or after (control group) winter (defined as 22 June to 21 September). The trial spans three winters with differing numbers of households in each cohort. The primary outcome is the mean difference in indoor average daily temperature between intervention and control households during the winter period. Secondary outcomes include household energy consumption and residential energy efficiency, self-reported respiratory symptoms, health-related quality of life, healthcare utilisation, absences from school/work and self-reported conditions within the home. Linear and logistic regression will be used to analyse the primary and secondary outcomes, controlling for clustering of households by area and the possible confounders of year and timing of intervention, to compare the treatment and control groups over the winter period. Economic evaluation will include a cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval was received from Victorian Department of Human Services Human Research Ethics Committee (reference number: 04/17), University of Technology Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee (reference number: ETH18-2273) and Australian Government Department of Veterans Affairs. Study results will be disseminated in a final report and peer-reviewed journals. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ACTRN12618000160235.


Subject(s)
Health Promotion , Quality of Life , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Health Promotion/methods , Humans , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , Schools , Victoria
5.
Aust Health Rev ; 46(3): 284-288, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1852632

ABSTRACT

We describe the design and implementation of an intensive care unit (ICU) virtual visiting program in a metropolitan ICU in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to examine patterns of use, and describe clinician acceptance of this technology. This was a mixed-methods study, comprising a retrospective analysis of virtual visits from 18 August to 30 September 2020. Patterns of utilisation included duration and time of visits, as well as bandwidth used. A post-implementation survey on a Virtual Visiting program based on the technology acceptance model was sent to clinicians; results were reported on separate scales for usefulness and usability. Publicly available telecommunication solutions were unsuitable for virtual visiting, whereas dedicated telehealth solutions needed modification to improve accessibility by patients and families. During the study period, 69 virtual visits were made with a median length of 10 min (range 1-80 min). A total of 72.5% of calls were made during office hours (09:00-17:00 h), with the latest occurring at approximately 21:30 h. Virtual visits required a mean bandwidth of 1224 kbps (download) and 940 kbps (upload), and consumed 0.7 GB (range 0.0-7.0 GB) and 0.5 GB (range 0.0-6.7 GB) of download and upload data. Clinicians reported a mean score of 2 (range 1-4) for perceived usefulness and 3 (range 1-6) for the perceived ease of use. Virtual visiting is a feasible alternative in the ICU, with good acceptance by clinicians. Challenges include safety and usability of videoconferencing platforms, as well as bandwidth requirements. Future health service design should consider support for dedicated virtual visiting solutions, as well as ensuring adequate bandwidth capabilities for this service. Further studies are needed to assess patient and family acceptability of this technology.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Health Services , Humans , Intensive Care Units , Retrospective Studies , Victoria
6.
BMC Health Serv Res ; 21(1): 819, 2021 Aug 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1840975

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The challenges of providing and accessing quality health care in rural regions have long been identified. Innovative solutions are not only required but are also vital if effective, timely and equitable access to sustainable health care in rural communities is to be realised. Despite trial implementation of some alternative models of health care delivery, not all have been evaluated and their impacts are not well understood. The aim of this study was to explore the views of staff and stakeholders of a rural health service in relation to the implementation of an after-hours nurse practitioner model of health care delivery in its Urgent Care Centre. METHODS: This qualitative study included semi-structured individual and group interviews with professional stakeholders of a rural health service in Victoria, Australia and included hospital managers and hospital staff who worked directly or indirectly with the after-hours NPs in addition to local GPs, GP practice nurses, and paramedics. Thematic analysis was used to generate key themes from the data. RESULTS: Four themes emerged from the data analysis: transition to change; acceptance of the after-hours nurse practitioner role; workforce sustainability; and rural context. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that the nurse practitioner-led model is valued by rural health practitioners and could reduce the burden of excessive after-hour on-call duties for rural GPs while improving access to quality health care for community members. As pressure on rural urgent care centres further intensifies with the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, serious consideration of the nurse practitioner-led model is recommended as a desirable and effective alternative.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Emergency Medical Services , Nurse Practitioners , Rural Health Services , Ambulatory Care Facilities , Humans , Pandemics , Perception , Rural Population , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria
7.
Int J Med Inform ; 163: 104783, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1814526

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The impacts of electronic medical record implementation on nurses, the largest healthcare workforce, have not been comprehensively examined. Negative impacts on nurses have implications for quality of patient care delivery and workforce retention. OBJECTIVE: To investigate changes in nurses' well-being, intention to stay, burnout, work engagement, satisfaction, motivation and experience using technology pre- and post-implementation of an organisation-wide electronic medical record in Victoria, Australia. METHODS: The natural experiment comprised an electronic medical record system implementation across six hospitals of a large tertiary healthcare organisation. Cross-sectional surveys were collected pre-electronic medical record implementation prior to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2019, and 18-months post-electronic medical record implementation during the pandemic in 2020, and findings compared. RESULTS: A total of 942 surveys were analysed (550 pre-electronic medical record (response rate 15.52%) and 392 post-electronic medical record (response rate 9.50%)). Post-electronic medical record, nurses' work satisfaction (r = 0.23, p=<0.001), intention to stay (r = 0.11, p = 0.001) and well-being (r = 0.17, p=<0.001) decreased. Nurses' perceived competence increased (r = 0.10, p = 0.002) despite decreased autonomy (r = 0.10, p = 0.003). Two of three dimensions of work engagement worsened (vigour r = 0.13, p=<0.001; dedication r = 0.13, p=<0.001) and all dimensions of burnout increased (exhaustion r = 0.08, p = 0.012, cynicism r = 0.07, p = 0.04 and reduced efficiency r = 0.32, p=<0.001). Nurses reported more burnout symptoms (95% CI 4.6-4.7%, p = 0.036), were less engaged (95% CI 49.6-49.9%, p=<0.001) and career trajectory satisfaction decreased (r = 0.15, p=<0.001). Matched data from 52 nurses showed changes in the same direction for all items except career trajectory satisfaction, hence validated findings from the larger unmatched sample. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of an electronic medical record immediately followed by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was associated with negative changes in nurses' well-being, intention to stay, burnout, work engagement and satisfaction.


Subject(s)
Burnout, Professional , COVID-19 , Nurses , Nursing Staff, Hospital , Burnout, Professional/epidemiology , Burnout, Professional/psychology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Electronic Health Records , Humans , Job Satisfaction , Nursing Staff, Hospital/psychology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Surveys and Questionnaires , Victoria
8.
Commun Dis Intell (2018) ; 462022 Apr 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1812120

ABSTRACT

Effective control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been challenging, in part due to significant asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission of disease. Reducing the time between symptom onset and COVID-19 testing and isolation allows enhanced outbreak control. The purpose of this study is to describe the time taken by participants to present to general practitioner-led (GP) respiratory clinics for assessment following the development of symptoms, and to explore associations between demographic and geographic characteristics and the time to presentation. A total of 314,148 participants, who were assessed in GP respiratory clinics between 1 February and 31 August 2021, were included in the analysis. The median age of participants at presentation was 33 years (interquartile range, IQR: 15-49). The median time from development of symptoms to presentation for assessment at GP respiratory clinics was 2 days (IQR: 1-3). Participants were more likely to present within one day of symptom onset if they were aged between 15 and 64 years (43.4%), lived in urban areas (40.9%) or were non-Indigenous (40.2%). Participants in New South Wales and Victoria had twice the odds (OR 2.01; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.95, 2.08) of presenting at a GP respiratory clinic within one day of symptom onset in August 2021, when there was a COVID-19 outbreak in those states, than they did in March 2021, when there was no COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. The number of days from symptom onset to presentation at a GP respiratory clinic was strongly associated with the presence of a COVID-19 outbreak. Participant age, location of the clinic, and Indigenous status of participants were also associated with the time to presentation. This study highlights the importance of recognising COVID-19 as a potential cause of symptoms, as well as the importance of providing easily accessible, and culturally appropriate, testing facilities for the population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , General Practitioners , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Middle Aged , Primary Health Care , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria , Young Adult
9.
Hum Vaccin Immunother ; 18(5): 2052701, 2022 Nov 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1806173

ABSTRACT

The Victorian Specialist Immunization Services (VicSIS) was established in Victoria, Australia, in February 2021, aiming to enhance vaccine safety services for Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines. VicSIS supports practitioners and patients with complex vaccine safety questions, including those who experience adverse events following immunization (AEFI) after COVID-19 vaccines. VicSIS provides individual vaccination recommendations, allergy testing, vaccine challenges, and vaccination under supervision. VicSIS initially comprised of eight adult COVID-19 specialist vaccination clinics, subsequently, expanding to better support pediatric patients as the Australian vaccine roll-out extended to adolescents and children. Since their establishment to September 2021, the inaugural VicSIS clinics received a total of 26,401 referrals and reviewed 6,079 patients. Consults were initially predominantly for pre-vaccination reviews, later predominantly becoming post-vaccination AEFI reviews as the program progressed. Regardless of the type of consult, the most common consult outcome was a recommendation for routine vaccination (73% and 55% of consult outcomes respectively). VicSIS is an integral component of the COVID-19 vaccination program and supports confidence in COVID-19 vaccine safety by providing consistent advice across the state. VicSIS aims to strengthen the health system through the pandemic, bolstering specialist immunization services beyond COVID-19 vaccines, including training the next generation of vaccinology experts.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Vaccines , Adolescent , Adult , Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/adverse effects , Child , Humans , Immunization/adverse effects , Population Surveillance , Vaccination/adverse effects , Vaccines/adverse effects , Victoria
10.
Lancet Public Health ; 7(5): e427-e436, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1799628

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Many studies have examined population mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic but have been unable to isolate the direct effect of lockdowns. The aim of this study was to examine changes in the mental health of Australians aged 15 years and older during the COVID-19 pandemic using a quasi-experimental design to disentangle the lockdown effect. METHODS: We analysed data from ten annual waves (2011-20) of the longitudinal Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to identify changes in the mental health of respondents from the pre-COVID-19 period (2011-19) to the COVID-19 period (2020). Difference-in-differences models were used to compare these changes between respondents in the state of Victoria who were exposed to lockdown at the time of the 2020 interviews (treatment group) and respondents living elsewhere in Australia (who were living relatively free of restrictions; control group). The models included state, year (survey wave), and person-specific fixed effects. Mental health was assessed using the five-item Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5), which was included in the self-complete questionnaire administered during the survey. FINDINGS: The analysis sample comprised 151 583 observations obtained from 20 839 individuals from 2011 to 2020. The treatment group included 3568 individuals with a total of 37 578 observations (34 010 in the pre-COVID-19 and 3568 in the COVID-19 period), and the control group included 17 271 individuals with 114 005 observations (102 867 in the pre-COVID-19 and 11 138 in the COVID-19 period). Mean MHI-5 scores did not differ between the treatment group (72·9 points [95% CI 72·8-73·2]) and control group (73·2 points [73·1-73·3]) in the pre-COVID-19 period. In the COVID-19 period, decreased mean scores were seen in both the treatment group (69·6 points [69·0-70·2]) and control group (70·8 points [70·5-71·2]). Difference-in-differences estimation showed a small but statistically significant effect of lockdown on MHI-5 scores, with greater decline for residents of Victoria in 2020 than for those in the rest of Australia (difference -1·4 points [95% CI -1·7 to -1·2]). Stratified analyses showed that this lockdown effect was larger for females (-2·2 points [-2·6 to -1·7]) than for males (-0·6 [-0·8 to -0·5]), and even larger for women in couples with children younger than 15 years (-4·4 points [-5·0 to -3·8]), and for females who lived in flats or apartments (-4·1 points [-5·4 to -2·8]) or semi-detached houses, terraced houses, or townhouses (-4·8 points [-6·4 to -3·2]). INTERPRETATION: The imposition of lockdowns was associated with a modest negative change in overall population mental health. The results suggest that the mental health effects of lockdowns differ by population subgroups and for some might have exaggerated existing inequalities in mental health. Although lockdowns have been an important public health tool in suppressing community transmission of COVID-19, more research is needed into the potential psychosocial impacts of such interventions to inform their future use. FUNDING: US National Institutes of Health.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Communicable Disease Control , Female , Humans , Male , Mental Health , Pandemics/prevention & control , Sampling Studies , United States , Victoria/epidemiology
11.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(8)2022 04 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1792693

ABSTRACT

Concerns regarding the physical and mental health impacts of frontline healthcare roles during the COVID-19 pandemic have been well documented, but the impacts on family functioning remain unclear. This study provides a unique contribution to the literature by considering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline healthcare workers and their families. Thirty-nine frontline healthcare workers from Victoria, Australia, who were parents to at least one child under 18 were interviewed. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Five superordinate and 14 subordinate themes were identified. Themes included more family time during lockdowns, but at a cost; changes in family responsibilities and routines; managing increased demands; healthcare workers hypervigilance and fear of bringing COVID-19 home to their family members; ways in which families worked to "get through it". While efforts have been made by many healthcare organisations to support their workers during this challenging time, the changes in family functioning observed by participants suggest that more could be done for this vulnerable cohort, particularly with respect to family support.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Communicable Disease Control , Health Personnel/psychology , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
12.
Commun Dis Intell (2018) ; 462022 Mar 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1791296

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Influenza is a common cause of acute respiratory infection, and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute respiratory infection that emerged as a pandemic worldwide before the start of the 2020 Australian influenza season. This report summarises the epidemiology of hospitalisations with laboratory-confirmed influenza and COVID-19 during the 2020 influenza season in a sentinel surveillance system. Methods: The Influenza Complications Alert Network (FluCAN) is a sentinel hospital-based surveillance program that operates at sites in all jurisdictions in Australia. Influenza and COVID-19 cases were defined as patients hospitalised at sentinel hospitals and confirmed by nucleic acid detection. Results: There were 448 patients with COVID-19 admitted between 16 March and 31 December 2020, and only 20 patients with influenza admitted between 1 April and 30 November 2020, to one of 22 FluCAN hospitals. Of the COVID-19 cases, 173 (39%) were > 65 years of age, 36 (8%) were children (< 16 years), 6 (1%) were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 4 (1%) were pregnant and 289 (65%) had chronic comorbidities. COVID-19 hospital admissions peaked between weeks 13 and 15 (first wave) nationally, and again between weeks 31 and 35 (Victoria), with most admissions represented by those above 40 years of age. Discussion: There was an unusually low number of hospital admissions with laboratory-confirmed influenza in this season, compared to recent seasons. This is likely to be due to effective public health interventions and international border closures as a result of a rise in COVID-19 respiratory infections and associated hospitalisations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Female , Hospitalization , Hospitals , Humans , Influenza, Human/complications , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Pregnancy , Victoria
13.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e058580, 2022 04 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1788965

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: COVID-19 lockdown measures have challenged people's mental health, especially among economically vulnerable households. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of exposure to COVID-19 shocks (defined as job loss, living cost pressures and changing housing conditions throughout the lockdown period) and double precarity (defined as precarity in housing and employment) on mental health outcomes for members of share households as well as the mediating effects of a range of resources. DESIGN: We conducted a two-wave survey of occupants of share housing in June and October 2020 during a prolonged period of population lockdown. Research design involved fixed effects ordered logit regression models to assess the mental health consequences of baseline precarity and COVID-related shocks. SETTING: Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: We surveyed 293 occupants of share houses (mean age 34 SD 11.5, 56% female). Members of share houses (where individuals are unrelated adults and not in a romantic relationship) are more likely to be young, casually employed, visa-holders and low-income. OUTCOME MEASURES: We measured household composition, housing and employment precarity, access to government support, household crowding, social networks and COVID-19 shocks. We used a self-reported measure of mental health. RESULTS: Those exposed to COVID-19 shocks reported a 2.7 times higher odds of mental health deterioration (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.53 to 4.85). People exposed to double precarity (precarity in both housing and employment) reported 2.4 times higher odds of mental health deterioration (OR 2.4, 95% CI 0.99 to 5.69). Housing inadequacy and lack of access to sufficient government payments explained 14.7% and 7% of the total effect of double precarity on mental health, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that residents of group households characterised by pre-existing precarity were vulnerable to negative mental health effects during lockdown. Access to sufficient government payments and adequate housing buffered this negative effect.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Shock , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Crowding , Family Characteristics , Female , Housing , Humans , Male , Mental Health , Victoria/epidemiology
14.
PLoS One ; 17(4): e0266650, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1779776

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To determine health impacts during, and following, an extended community lockdown and COVID-19 outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria, compared with the rest of Australia. METHODS: A national cohort of 898 working-age Australians enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study, completing surveys before, during, and after a 112-day community lockdown in Victoria (8 July- 27 October 2020). Outcomes included psychological distress, mental and physical health, work, social interactions and finances. Regression models examined health changes during and following lockdown. RESULTS: The Victorian lockdown led to increased psychological distress. Health impacts coincided with greater social isolation and work loss. Following the extended lockdown, mental health, work and social interactions recovered to an extent whereby no significant long-lasting effects were identified in Victoria compared to the rest of Australia. CONCLUSION: The Victorian community lockdown had adverse health consequences, which reversed upon release from lockdown. Governments should weigh all potential health impacts of lockdown. Services and programs to reduce the negative impacts of lockdown may include increases in mental health care, encouraging safe social interactions and supports to maintain employment relationships.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
15.
Aust Health Rev ; 46(2): 127-128, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1778685

ABSTRACT

sion="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> AH Australian Health Review Aust. Health Rev. 0156-5788 1449-8944 CSIRO Publishing 36 Gardiner Road Clayton 3168 Melbourne Victoria Australia AH22054 10.1071/AH22054 Policy Reflection Election 2022 should address unfinished business in health and aged care S. Duckett Duckett Stephen PhD, DSc, FASSA, FAHMS, Director, Health and Aged Care Program, Honorary Enterprise Professor A * Grattan Institute, 8 Malvina Place, Carlton, Vic. 3083, Australia. * Correspondence to: Stephen Duckett Grattan Institute, 8 Malvina Place, Carlton, Vic. 3083, Australia Email: sduckett@unimelb.edu.au 7 April 2022 46 2 127 128 11 March 2022 Received 11 March 2022 15 March 2022 Accepted 15 March 2022 7 April 2022 Published © 2022 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of AHHA. 2022 The Authors The 2022 federal election is critical for the health and aged care sectors. Both parties need to address the COVID care deficit, oral health care, and commit to fix the aged care mess. The ongoing tragedy of First Nations health should also remain a priority. And a bipartisan acceptance of the need to address climate change is also required.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Academies and Institutes , Aged , Humans , Politics , Victoria
16.
Australas Psychiatry ; 30(2): 239-242, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1775218

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Victoria has low numbers of general adult psychiatric beds per capita by Australian and international standards. Hospital key performance indicators (KPIs) such as bed occupancy rates, emergency department waiting times and inpatient lengths of stay are proximal measures of the effects any shortfall in beds. We investigate the real-world performance of Victorian hospitals during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extended lockdowns in 2020. CONCLUSIONS: The Victorian inpatient psychiatric system is characterised by high bed occupancies in many regions, extended stays in emergency departments awaiting a bed, and short inpatient lengths of stay, except for patients with excessively long stays on acute units (over 35 days) who are unable to be admitted to non-acute facilities. At the end of 2020, bed occupancies were high (above 90%) in 10 regions, with three regions having bed occupancies over 100%. However, state-wide average bed occupancy improved between 2019 (94%) and 2020 (88%). Other KPIs remained steady because acute hospitals did not experience the expected pandemic mental health demand-surge. For a more complete picture of the impact of the pandemic, Australia needs interconnected, centralised data systems.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control , Hospitals , Humans , Length of Stay , Pandemics , Victoria/epidemiology
17.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e052733, 2022 04 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1774953

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the impacts, on mental and physical health, of a mandatory shift to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: Cross sectional, online survey. SETTING: Online survey was conducted from September 2020 to November 2020 in the general population. PARTICIPANTS: Australian residents working from home for at least 2 days a week at some time in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Demographics, caring responsibilities, working from home arrangements, work-related technology, work-family interface, psychosocial and physical working conditions, and reported stress and musculoskeletal pain. RESULTS: 924 Australians responded to the online questionnaire. Respondents were mostly women (75.5%) based in Victoria (83.7%) and employed in the education and training and healthcare sectors. Approximately 70% of respondents worked five or more days from home, with only 60% having a dedicated workstation in an uninterrupted space. Over 70% of all respondents reported experiencing musculoskeletal pain or discomfort. Gendered differences were observed; men reported higher levels of family to work conflict (3.16±1.52 to 2.94±1.59, p=0.031), and lower levels of recognition for their work (3.75±1.03 to 3.96±1.06, p=0.004), compared with women. For women, stress (2.94±0.92 to 2.66±0.88, p<0.001) and neck/shoulder pain (4.50±2.90 to 3.51±2.84, p<0.001) were higher than men and they also reported more concerns about their job security than men (3.01±1.33 to 2.78±1.40, p=0.043). CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary evidence from the current study suggests that working from home may impact employees' physical and mental health, and that this impact is likely to be gendered. Although further analysis is required, these data provide insights into further research opportunities needed to assist employers in optimising working from home conditions and reduce the potential negative physical and mental health impacts on their employees.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Mental Health , Pandemics , Victoria/epidemiology
18.
BMC Psychiatry ; 22(1): 219, 2022 03 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1765443

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: There is increasing recognition of the substantial burden of mental health disorders at an individual and population level, including consequent demand on mental health services. Lifestyle-based mental healthcare offers an additional approach to existing services with potential to help alleviate system burden. Despite the latest Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists guidelines recommending that lifestyle is a 'first-line', 'non-negotiable' treatment for mood disorders, few such programs exist within clinical practice. Additionally, there are limited data to determine whether lifestyle approaches are equivalent to established treatments. Using an individually randomised group treatment design, we aim to address this gap by evaluating an integrated lifestyle program (CALM) compared to an established therapy (psychotherapy), both delivered via telehealth. It is hypothesised that the CALM program will not be inferior to psychotherapy with respect to depressive symptoms at 8 weeks. METHODS: The study is being conducted in partnership with Barwon Health's Mental Health, Drugs & Alcohol Service (Geelong, Victoria), from which 184 participants from its service and surrounding regions are being recruited. Eligible participants with elevated psychological distress are being randomised to CALM or psychotherapy. Each takes a trans-diagnostic approach, and comprises four weekly (weeks 1-4) and two fortnightly (weeks 6 and 8) 90-min, group-based sessions delivered via Zoom (digital video conferencing platform). CALM focuses on enhancing knowledge, behavioural skills and support for improving dietary and physical activity behaviours, delivered by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Accredited Practising Dietitian. Psychotherapy uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered by a Psychologist or Clinical Psychologist, and Provisional Psychologist. Data collection occurs at baseline and 8 weeks. The primary outcome is depressive symptoms (assessed via the Patient Health Questionnaire-9) at 8 weeks. Societal and healthcare costs will be estimated to determine the cost-effectiveness of the CALM program. A process evaluation will determine its reach, adoption, implementation and maintenance. DISCUSSION: If the CALM program is non-inferior to psychotherapy, this study will provide the first evidence to support lifestyle-based mental healthcare as an additional care model to support individuals experiencing psychological distress. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12621000387820 , Registered 8 April 2021.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Telemedicine , Adult , Anxiety , Depression/complications , Depression/therapy , Humans , Life Style , Psychotherapy , Telemedicine/methods , Victoria
19.
BMC Health Serv Res ; 22(1): 381, 2022 Mar 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1759747

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has inundated the capacity of hospitals across the globe, exhausting resources, and placing extreme burden on health care workers (HCWs). Hospital preparedness during infectious disease outbreak involves development and implementation of appropriate strategies, procedures, and adequate training for HCWs. Reliable and valid tools to evaluate the perception of HCWs on the effectiveness of hospital preparedness strategies are imperative and literature is yet to fill that gap. METHODS: Items for 'The Staff Questionnaire for Infectious Disease Outbreak Readiness and Preparedness (SQIDORP)' were selected from literature that addressed hospital preparedness during novel pandemic outbreaks. The SQIDORP was distributed within a regional hospital in Victoria, Australia. Psychometric evaluation included estimates of reliability and factor analysis while factors associated with the questionnaire were explored using regression analysis. RESULTS: Omega coefficient of 0.89, Cronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.88 and item-total correlations (> 0.3) indicated adequate reliability of the SQIDORP. Factor Analysis yielded three meaningful latent factors that are effectiveness of training (Factor 1), self-confidence (Factor 2) and risk to self and stress (Factor 3). Demographic factors did not influence the correlation with SQIDORP. However, rating 'the current plan for management of COVID-19 in your ward' and 'personal knowledge/skills in caring for patients with COVID-19' had significant positive correlation and accounted for 33% of the variance in readiness and preparedness using SQIDORP (R2 = 0.33, F = 10.227, P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Most of the items of SQIDORP questionnaire achieved adequate internal consistence reliability. This is a valuable tool that can be utilized by hospitals to explore aspects of preparedness and give insights to the knowledge, skills, and mental health of HCWs, as perceived by the HCW themselves.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics , Psychometrics , Reproducibility of Results , Surveys and Questionnaires , Victoria/epidemiology
20.
JAMA Netw Open ; 5(3): e221313, 2022 03 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1733812

ABSTRACT

Importance: The immune response in children with SARS-CoV-2 infection is not well understood. Objective: To compare seroconversion in nonhospitalized children and adults with mild SARS-CoV-2 infection and identify factors that are associated with seroconversion. Design, Setting, and Participants: This household cohort study of SARS-CoV-2 infection collected weekly nasopharyngeal and throat swabs and blood samples during the acute (median, 7 days for children and 12 days for adults [IQR, 4-13] days) and convalescent (median, 41 [IQR, 31-49] days) periods after polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnosis for analysis. Participants were recruited at The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, from May 10 to October 28, 2020. Participants included patients who had a SARS-CoV-2-positive nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimen using PCR analysis. Main Outcomes and Measures: SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin G (IgG) and cellular (T cell and B cell) responses in children and adults. Seroconversion was defined by seropositivity in all 3 (an in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA] and 2 commercial assays: a SARS-CoV-2 S1/S2 IgG assay and a SARS-CoV-2 antibody ELISA) serological assays. Results: Among 108 participants with SARS-CoV-2-positive PCR findings, 57 were children (35 boys [61.4%]; median age, 4 [IQR, 2-10] years) and 51 were adults (28 women [54.9%]; median age, 37 [IQR, 34-45] years). Using the 3 established serological assays, a lower proportion of children had seroconversion to IgG compared with adults (20 of 54 [37.0%] vs 32 of 42 [76.2%]; P < .001). This result was not associated with viral load, which was similar in children and adults (mean [SD] cycle threshold [Ct] value, 28.58 [6.83] vs 24.14 [8.47]; P = .09). In addition, age and sex were not associated with seroconversion within children (median age, 4 [IQR, 2-14] years for both seropositive and seronegative groups; seroconversion by sex, 10 of 21 girls [47.6%] vs 10 of 33 boys [30.3%]) or adults (median ages, 37 years for seropositive and 40 years for seronegative adults [IQR, 34-39 years]; seroconversion by sex, 18 of 24 women [75.0%] vs 14 of 18 men [77.8%]) (P > .05 for all comparisons between seronegative and seropositive groups). Symptomatic adults had 3-fold higher SARS-CoV-2 IgG levels than asymptomatic adults (median, 227.5 [IQR, 133.7-521.6] vs 75.3 [IQR, 36.9-113.6] IU/mL), whereas no differences were observed in children regardless of symptoms. Moreover, differences in cellular immune responses were observed in adults compared with children with seroconversion. Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this cohort study suggest that among patients with mild COVID-19, children may be less likely to have seroconversion than adults despite similar viral loads. This finding has implications for future protection after SARS-CoV-2 infection in children and for interpretation of serosurveys that involve children. Further research to understand why seroconversion and development of symptoms are potentially less likely in children after SARS-CoV-2 infection and to compare vaccine responses may be of clinical and scientific importance.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/blood , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Age Factors , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Child , Child, Preschool , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Seroconversion , Victoria/epidemiology , Viral Load
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