Health care workers (HCWs) have experienced several stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Structural stressors, including extended work hours, redeployment, and changes in organizational mandates, often intersect with interpersonal and personal stressors, such as caring for those with COVID-19 infections; worrying about infection of self, family, and loved ones; working despite shortages of personal protective equipment; and encountering various difficult moral-ethical dilemmas.
The paper describes the protocol for a longitudinal study seeking to capture the unique experiences, challenges, and changes faced by HCWs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study seeks to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of HCWs with a particular focus on moral distress, perceptions of and satisfaction with delivery of care, and how changes in work structure are tolerated among HCWs providing clinical services.
A prospective longitudinal design is employed to assess HCWs’ experiences across domains of mental health (depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and well-being), moral distress and moral reasoning, work-related changes and telehealth, organizational responses to COVID-19 concerns, and experiences with COVID-19 infections to self and to others. We recruited HCWs from across Canada through convenience snowball sampling to participate in either a short-form or long-form web-based survey at baseline. Respondents to the baseline survey are invited to complete a follow-up survey every 3 months, for a total of 18 months.
A total of 1926 participants completed baseline surveys between June 26 and December 31, 2020, and 1859 participants provided their emails to contact them to participate in follow-up surveys. As of July 2021, data collection is ongoing, with participants nearing the 6- or 9-month follow-up periods depending on their initial time of self-enrollment.
This protocol describes a study that will provide unique insights into the immediate and longitudinal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dimensions of mental health, moral distress, health care delivery, and workplace environment of HCWs. The feasibility and acceptability of implementing a short-form and long-form survey on participant engagement and data retention will also be discussed.
International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)