Using In Situ Simulation to Reduce Fear and Insecurity Among Healthcare Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic (1090-003940) (Research Abstract Professor Rounds: Group 3)
Session Type: Research Abstracts (Completed Studies)
The Covid-19 pandemic calls for immediate response against the fast spreading virus. At Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, this led to the establishing of four new covid-19 wards which changed the daily routines for hundreds of healthcare professionals. Many healthcare professionals suddenly faced new, unfamiliar tasks and a high personal risk of getting infected or spreading this new virus to their own family. The rapidly increasing numbers of covid-19 patients left no time to ask how the healthcare workers felt, and to comply with the situation, hence an immediate need for covid-19 related education as well as redefining safety among the staff occurred. The aim of this research project was to examine whether in situ simulation helped supporting the healthcare professionals in dealing with the emotional strain of Covid-19 and create a set of guidelines for using in situ simulation in future pandemic responses.
An interdisciplinary in situ simulation program was conducted to rapidly facilitate the covid-19 related education of 277 healthcare professionals at the four new covid-19 wards. The focus areas of the in situ simulation program were: 1: To deal with the fact that several of the healthcare professionals were unfamiliar with new working practices and enhance team communication within the ward. 2: All the healthcare professionals needed education related to personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid spreading the virus. 3: All simulation participants needed education, about how Covid-19 affects the patient. These areas were moderated into the following learning objectives: - ABCDE approach to the patient with covid-19. - Team work and communication. - Correct use of PPE. In total, 69 simulations were conducted in situ in order to ensure that the staff could get familiar with their new clinical setting, achieve a mutual communication strategy, and help redefining safety among the staff.
Subsequently four healthcare professionals from each Covid-19 ward participated in qualitative focus group interviews. Each interview lasted about 90 minutes, were recorded, and three researchers captured the themes emerging from the data. Our research show that several participants reported feelings of fear, insecurity and chaos related to the involvement in the covid-19 response. The interviews showed that in situ simulation could not change the feeling of chaos due to the major organizational changes, but all the participants reported positively about the learning gained from the simulation. Most importantly, the findings showed how in situ simulation generated a feeling of safety. Based upon the personal and joint experience with PPE, experience gained during team training, and an important demystification regarding the treatment of patients with this new unknown virus.
It cannot be neglected that Covid-19 generates fear and insecurity among healthcare professionals and further negative consequences of the emotional strain will probably emerge. The important lesson from this study is that in situ simulation can be used to redefine safety among healthcare professionals and to incorporate in situ simulation in the early stages of a pandemic response will be recommended.