Australian Frontline Healthcare Workers Study: Understanding the psychoscial impacts of COVID-19 and other crises on the health workforce

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Masters by Research
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Assoc Prof Natasha Smallwood 0401821623 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Karen Willis Personal web page

Summary This study explores the important social, occupational and mental health effects experienced by frontline health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We will examine factors that promote good mental health and wellbeing, as well as risk factors for poorer mental health. Your input will inform recommendations to healthcare organisations and other professional bodies.

Project Details

The Australian Frontline Healthcare Workers study is a 3 phased program of research that examines how we can support frontline health workers' psychological needs during and following the acute COVID-19 crisis as well as other crises and disasters. This research is not about severe mental health issues, but the issues experienced day to day during a crisis and the role of good health leadership. The study was initiated and is lead by a team of frontline health workers, researchers as well as psychologists. Within each phase of the research program there are opportunities for research students at all levels, including PhD candidates.

Phase 1: Surveys

We will identify frontline health workers' psychological needs, the strategies they use to stay mentally and physically healthy, their preferred models of support, and the role of the workplace and good leadership and communication in ensuring that frontline health workers are supported to meet the challenges of the future. The quantitative survey is currently underway and has received an incredible 7000 responses in 3 weeks of opening from a very broad group of health workers in the community, primary and secondary care. Data analysis includes both quantitative methods and the detailed qualitative analysis of free text responses.

Phase 2: Qualitative interviews

We will interview 100 healthcare workers from multiple backgrounds to understand in greater depth their experiences, explore more ideas around health leadership and determine how participants would co-design solutions to address current gaps in the supports available to them during crises. Additionally interviews with 20 health leaders will identify issues and recommendations from their perspective.

Phase 3: Recommendations for change

Health round table and/or e-Delphi to determine solutions to address the needs of healthcare workers in crises, which address individual risk factors and consider health leadership. There are additional opportunities to consider in more depth gender inequality, health leadership and crisis management.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Masters by Research
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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