Western researcher interviews COVID-19 healthcare professionals for WHO study

With facts and figures driving conversation internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is equally important to remember – and record – the resilience of healthcare workers (HCW) fighting the most challenging global crisis since World War II.

Elysée Nouvet

Elysée Nouvet

Elysée Nouvet, an assistant professor in Western University’s School of Health Studies, is currently leading a rapid qualitative study as part of the COVID-19 Research Roadmap – a social science working group convened by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The ambitious research project launched last week when Nouvet and her team started conducting in-depth interviews with 50 current frontline COVID-19 pandemic healthcare professionals – medical staff including community-based nurses, intensive care doctors and respiratory therapists – for a three-week intensive investigation that she believes will not only provide significant observations and first-hand accounts for long-term analysis and exploration but also offer valuable insight for short-term solutions and results.

A major difference between this type of project and a majority of social science-focused interview studies is that Nouvet and her team are not required to transcribe hours and hours of recordings before delivering findings and drawing conclusions. A rapid qualitative study allows them to target key words and themes and quickly translate knowledge gained to better global understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nouvet expects to have preliminary results by the end of April 2020.

“Our hope is to build evidence that can inform COVID-19 triage and triage communication strategies, as well as understand what ethical treatment of the world’s patient population looks like in the eyes of those on the front lines of healthcare delivery,” says Nouvet.

For the study, Nouvet will be conducting interviews with healthcare professionals from all six WHO regions (Africa, the Americas, South-East Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific), including hotspots like New York and Italy, as well as refugee camps in countries where COVID-19 is hitting already seriously underfunded healthcare systems.

The type of study questions include:

1) What care will be provided for patients who require but will not be prioritized for critical care during this pandemic?

2) What do healthcare workers consider crucial to the ethical treatment of these patients?

3) How and if will such prioritization plans be shared with the affected populations and the general public?

“The need to anticipate allocation of resources and services is clear,” explains Nouvet. “This has become undeniable, with Italian hospitals in those regions hardest hit by COVID-19 already needing to determine which critically ill patients will receive respirators and ventilators.”

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Elysee Nouvet
Elysee Nouvet