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As the understanding of health care worker lived experience during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) grows, the experiences of those utilizing emergency health care services (EHS) during the pandemic are yet to be fully appreciated.
The objective of this research was to explore lived experience of EHS utilization in Victoria, Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 through March 2021.
An explorative qualitative design underpinned by a phenomenological approach was applied. Data were collected through semi-structured, in-depth interviews, which were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using Colaizzi’s approach.
Qualitative data were collected from 67 participants aged from 32 to 78-years-of-age (average age of 52). Just over one-half of the research participants were male (54%) and three-quarters lived in metropolitan regions (75%). Four key themes emerged from data analysis: (1) Concerns regarding exposure and infection delayed EHS utilization among participants with chronic health conditions; (2) Participants with acute health conditions expressed concern regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their care, but continued to access services as required; (3) Participants caring for people with sensory and developmental disabilities identified unique communication needs during interactions with EHS during the COVID-19 pandemic; communicating with emergency health care workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) was identified as a key challenge, with face masks reported as especially problematic for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing; and (4) Children and older people also experienced communication challenges associated with PPE, and the need for connection with emergency health care workers was important for positive lived experience during interactions with EHS throughout the pandemic.
This research provides an important insight into the lived experience of EHS utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic, a perspective currently lacking in the published peer-reviewed literature.
The majority of research investigating healthcare workers’ (HCWs) willingness to work during public health emergencies, asks participants to forecast their perceptions based on hypothetical emergencies, rather than in response to the actual public health emergencies they have experienced. This research explored frontline HCWs willingness to work during Australia’s first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic among frontline HCWs.
Participants (n = 580) completed an online questionnaire regarding their willingness to work during the pandemic.
A total of 42% of participants reported being less willing to work during the pandemic compared to before. Availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), concern expressed by family members, and viral exposure were significant barriers. A third of participants disagreed that some level of occupational risk for exposure to infectious disease was acceptable while a quarter of participants had received communications from their workplace concerning obligations to work during COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Australian frontline HCWs’ willingness to work. Scarcity of PPE and exposure to the virus were the most cited reasons impacting on willingness to work. Appropriate policies and practices should be implemented and communicated efficiently to frontline HCW’s. This research provides insight into the lived experiences of Australian healthcare professionals’ willingness to work during a pandemic.
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