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The COVID-19 Health Care Workers (HEROES) Study

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Date Commenced:
06/2020
Expected Date of Completion:
07/2021
Project Members: 
image - Sonja Memedovic
Research Fellow
Ph +61 (2) 9385 0326
image - Michael Farrell 0
Director
Ph EA Tori Barnes: 02 9385 0292 / t.barnes@unsw.edu.au
image - Julia Lappin
Senior Lecturer
Ph +61283821575
Project Main Description: 

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 mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers around the world. The Australian arm of the study is led by NDARC, while the broader international study is led by the University of Chile and Columbia University as equal partners. 

Project Collaborators: External: 

Dr Clare McCormack, Columbia University, New York

Associate Professor Samuel Harvey, Black Dog Institute, Sydney

Rationale: 

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated an unprecedented impact on healthcare systems in Australia and across the world. Healthcare workers have been placed under considerable strain from increased workloads, organizational changes implemented by health services 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 HEROES study will provide this crucial information, which will be used to inform policy and develop appropriate supports for healthcare workers.

Aims: 

The Australian component of the COVID-19 HEROES study aims to:

  1. Examine the short- and medium-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, substance use and psycho-social functioning among healthcare workers in Australia, and
  2. Contribute to a global understanding of these effects through comparisons of Australian data with that of other participating countries. 
     
Design and Method: 

This project will comprise an online cohort of healthcare workers (including clinical, administrative and support staff) recruited from across Australia using intentional, nonprobability sampling. Participants will be asked to self-complete four confidential online surveys over a 12-month period (at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months later). 

Progress/Update: 

This study has obtained ethics approval from the UNSW HREC (Ref: HC200378). Participant recruitment is expected to commence in July 2020. 

Benefits: 

This study will identify the needs and concerns of healthcare workers in Australia and across the world, 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 impacted by this crisis and similar challenges in the future.

Project Research Area: 
Project Status: 
Current