Study to look at the long term effects of COVID-19 on our frontline healthcare workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role carers and health workers play in society and now the Victorian Government has announced funding for a collaborative study into the long-term impacts of the pandemic on their psychological and physical wellbeing.

The COVIC-HA study will enrol 1,500 Victorian frontline workers, including first responders, hospital, primary care and aged care workers, to comprise a comprehensive assessment incorporating work-related fatigue, anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collaborative team of researchers is drawn from Alfred Health, Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Cabrini Health, Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre, Ambulance Victoria, Safer Care Victoria, Worksafe Victoria and the Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit. The researchers bring extraordinary breadth of skills and expertise across clinical health care, health service management, mental health, occupational health, infectious disease epidemiology, change implementation and biostatistics.

The research will provide data on risks for infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and examine the planning and responsiveness of workplaces to identify processes that best support and mitigate risk for workers so they can be applied broadly across the sector.

“This is a tremendous collaboration that will provide new understanding of the effects of working in healthcare during COVID-19 on physical health and function, as well as on psychological health and wellbeing,” said Professor Karin Leder, Head of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at SPHPM. “Risk activities and training will be assessed to help identify ways to minimise COVID-19 impacts on workers.”

“People caring for those infected with COVID-19 must be supported to help them shoulder this great responsibility. This project brings together some of the most experienced people across a wide range of relevant disciplines to better understand their needs, and ensure evidence-based responses can be developed,” said Professor Sophia Zoungas, Head of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Additional funding support is being provided by WorkSafe Victoria.