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Title: A quantitative evaluation of the impact of COVID-19 case activity on the wellbeing of Victorian rural and regional health staff (The CReW Study).
Author: Field, M.
Alston, L.
Buccheri, A.
Versace, Vincent
Sourlos, N.
Isaacs, A.
King, O.
Imran, D.
Wong Shee, Anna
Bishop, J.
Kennelly, M.
Murphy, F.
Wood, E.
Jacobs, J.
Issue Date: 2023
Conference Name: Western Alliance 2023 Symposium.
Conference Date: November 21-22
Conference Place: Warrnambool, Victoria
Abstract: Background/aim: The COVID-19 pandemic presented an unprecedented challenge to the Australian health system, and there is a dearth of evidence on the impacts on rural health staff. This study is the quantitative arm of a broader mixed methods study, and aimed to investigate impacts of COVID19 on the wellbeing of Victorian rural health service staff. Population/setting: All paid workers at nine public sector health services in rural and regional Victoria were eligible to participate. Methods: This study was repeat cross-sectional with three phases: 1) co-design of data collection tools with health service leaders; 2) anonymous online questionnaire; 3) collection of publicly-available data on COVID-19 case numbers, government restrictions and vaccination rates. The online questionnaire included validated mental health and wellbeing scales, and was conducted with rural health service staff at two timepoints (MayJune and November-December 2021). Linear mixed models will be used to assess changes in staff wellbeing across timepoints and any associations with regional COVID-19 case numbers and restrictions. Results/findings: Co-design identified three wellbeing questionnaires to include in the staff survey. Survey response rates were similar at timepoints 1 (n=452) and 2 (n= (424). A majority of participants worked part time (55%) and were employed in clinical roles (60%). Most participants reported a change in work duties due to the pandemic (74%). The most frequently reported changes were increased hours, changed duties and additional personal protective equipment requirements. Between timepoints 1 and 2, subjective wellbeing declined overall according to The Impact of Event Scale (p=0.002). Those working in clinical roles and health service managers experienced the greatest declines. There was no significant change in the Personal Wellbeing Index or the Generalised Anxiety Disorder scale. Analysis of correlations between wellbeing scores and COVID-19 factors is in progress. Conclusion: Most rural health service staff experienced changed work duties as a result of the pandemic. A deterioration across timepoints in scores of subjective distress caused by traumatic events was observed, most pronounced among clinicians and managers. Translational impact/implications for future practice: Governments and health services must consider the wellbeing of rural health staff, in particular clinicians and managers, during pandemics and other health events, and the potential impact of changing work duties.
Internal ID Number: 02352
Health Subject: COVID-19
Type: Conference
Appears in Collections:Research Output

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