Australian infection control practitioners’ and infectious diseases physicians’ experiences of managing COVID-19
Dr Cristina Sotomayor-Castillo1,2, Dr Shizar Nahidi1,2, Dr Cecilia Li1,2, Dr Deborough Macbeth3, Associate Professor Philip L. Russo4,5, Professor Brett G. Mitchell6, Professor Marilyn Cruickshank7,8, Professor Ramon Z. Shaban1,2,9,10
1Faculty of Medicine and Health, Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia
2Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia
3Infection Control Department, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, Southport, Australia
4Department of Nursing Research, Cabrini Institute, , Australia
5Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
6School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Newcastle University, Australia
7Nursing Research Unit, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Sydney, Australia
8Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia
9Division of Infectious Diseases and Sexual Health, Westmead Hospital and Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, Australia
10New South Wales Biocontainment Centre, Western Sydney Local Health District and New South Wales Health, , Australia
Introduction: COVID-19 has placed unprecedented demands on infection control practitioners (ICPs) and infectious diseases (ID) physicians to implement effective infection prevention and disease control strategies. This study examined their knowledge, preparedness, and experiences managing COVID-19 in the Australasian healthcare settings.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of ICPs and ID physician members of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC) and the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) was conducted. An online, voluntary, and anonymous survey was distributed across membership. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. Open text data were analysed using conventional content analysis methods.
Results: A total of 148 survey responses were included in the analysis (103 for ICPs and 45 for ID physicians). The majority of ICPs (78.7%) and ID physicians (77.8%) reported having ‘very good’ or ‘good’ level of knowledge of COVID-19. An overwhelming majority of ICPs (96%) and ID physicians (73.3%) reported feeling ‘moderately prepared’ or ‘extremely prepared’ for managing COVID-19. A large proportion of ICPs (72%) and ID physicians (64.4%) reported receiving specific training/certification in PPE use, with 88% and 75.5% feeling ‘mostly or entirely confident’ in using it, respectively. Most ICPs (84.5%) and ID physicians (76.2%) reported having ‘considerably’ or ‘moderately more’ work added to their daily duties. Their biggest concerns reported included the uncertainties under a rapidly changing landscape, PPE availability and community’s compliance.
Conclusion: Harmonised information and adequate education-training are key to successfully managing COVID-19 and other future outbreaks.
Professor Shaban is a leading internationally credentialled expert infection control practitioner with strengths in high-consequence infectious diseases, disease control, emergency care and antimicrobial resistance. He is Clinical Chair and Professor of Infection Prevention and Disease Control at The University of Sydney and WSLHD.