The COVID-19 Health Care Workers (HEROES) Study: Project overview and baseline data from Australia.
Presenter: Sonja Memedovic
Author names: 1Memedovic, S., 2McCormack, C., 1Degenhardt, L., 3Harvey, S., 1Lappin, J., 1Farrell., M.
Author affiliation: 1National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney; 2Center for Science and Society, Columbia University, New York USA; 3Black Dog Institute
Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has generated an unprecedented impact on healthcare systems in Australia and across the world. Many healthcare workers are faced with considerable stressors including increased workload, organizational changes implemented in response to the pandemic, and serious threat of infection. Previous research suggests that frontline responders in complex emergencies such as pandemics are at risk of psychological distress and increased substance use, and that these negative effects can last over time. As such, there is an urgent need to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of those on the frontlines of this ongoing health crisis.
The COVID-19 Health Care Workers (HEROES) Study is an international collaboration of more than 20 countries across five continents (America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania), established to study the short- and medium-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the psychosocial functioning of healthcare workers around the world.
Aims: This presentation will: 1) provide an overview of the COVID-19 HEROES study, and 2) present Australian baseline data on healthcare workers’ psychosocial functioning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including pandemic-related experiences, mental health, and substance use patterns.
Methods: Between June to July 2020 we aim to recruit an online cohort of ~1000 healthcare workers from across Australia (including clinical, administrative and support staff), using intentional, nonprobability sampling. Participants will self-complete four confidential online surveys over a 12-month period (including baseline, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups).
Results: Baseline data collection will be completed and analysed in time for the NDARC Symposium. We will present an overview of healthcare workers’ psychosocial functioning since the start of the pandemic.
Implications for policy and practice: This study will provide us with an understanding of the needs and concerns of workers at health services as they grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on workload, personal risk of exposure, and system-level changes in models of service delivery. The findings of this project will be used to inform policy and develop appropriate supports and interventions for healthcare workers.