New study looks at impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workforce

Castlemaine Health will be part of a unique research project exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of the rural and regional healthcare workforce.

The three-year study, which hopes to recruit 4000 healthcare workers from health services throughout the Loddon Mallee region, aims to develop practical interventions that can improve workers responses to disasters in the future.

Bendigo Health and La Trobe University will lead the study on behalf of the health services in the Loddon Mallee Health Network, St John of God Hospital Bendigo, the five Loddon Mallee Community Health Centres, the Murray Primary Health Network and the University of Copenhagen.

This consortium will jointly conduct the $1m million research project which is funded through State Government’s Victorian COVID-19 research fund.

Castlemaine Health Chief Executive Officer Ian Fisher said the project was an important means of understanding how the pandemic has impacted health care workers embedded in close-knit communities.

“Health services in regional and rural communities are generally the largest employer, meaning the impact of COVID-19 on health care workers has a more direct impact on the community at large,” he said.

“The study presents a unique opportunity to examine rural and regional populations, which have historically been underrepresented in this type of research.”

Epidemiologist Associate Professor, Mark McEvoy from La Trobe Rural Health School is the Principal Investigator.

Professor McEvoy said many overseas studies had assessed the impact of COVID-19 on health care workers’ mental health, but little research had been done to understand the “resilience factors” of workers and communities.

“We don’t know the protective and resilience factors. We don’t know why some do really well in a pandemic and some don’t,” he said.

“The study aims to establish this and develop resilience-based interventions for health care workers so they can improve their response to disasters in the future.”

Professor McEvoy said the study will begin recruiting health care workers in November.?

Learn more about the Loddon Mallee Healthcare Worker Study.

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