Is COVID-19 preparedness among health workers enough? See what study says

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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A new study published in the ‘PLOS ONE Journal’ has revealed that while overall preparedness for and awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic was considered acceptable during the first wave, significant differences in these levels were seen across worker groups and countries.

Among healthcare workers, awareness and preparedness regarding COVID-19 played a key role in reducing the risk of transmission at hospitals and keeping them safe. Understanding the extent to which healthcare workers are aware and prepared is needed to inform policies for both the ongoing pandemic and potential future outbreaks of other diseases.

The study was carried out by researchers from Nagasaki University, Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine, Islamic University of Gaza, Vietnam National University, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and other international partners, and was funded in part by the School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nagasaki University.

In order to offer insights, the team conducted a survey of healthcare workers from 371 hospitals in 57 different countries, receiving a total of 17,302 responses between February and May of 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey included questions to evaluate COVID-19 awareness and preparedness, adapted from several COVID-19 preparedness checklists developed early on in the pandemic.

Statistical analysis of the survey responses found that the median COVID-19 preparedness score was 11 out of a maximum score of 15, and the median COVID-19 awareness score was 29.6 out of 40. The researchers considered these levels to be acceptable.

However, both scores were significantly higher among workers with previous outbreak experience or who received training for the COVID-19 outbreak. Preparedness scores were also higher for male participants and nurses than for women and doctors.

The authors noted that “female healthcare workers, however, had lower preparedness and awareness scores than their male counterparts, which may have translated into the higher burden of SARS-COV-2 infection.”

In addition, preparedness varied according to national wealth and sociodemographic characteristics. For instance, countries in East Asia and the Pacific had significantly higher preparedness scores than countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

The findings of the study suggested the need for training opportunities that are more equitable across genders. The researchers also called for better knowledge sharing between countries to learn from prior outbreaks. Future research could examine how awareness and preparedness among healthcare workers have evolved throughout the pandemic.

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