Nevin Manimala Statistics

Evaluating barriers and potential solutions to speaking up about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms: A survey among nursing home workers

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2023 Nov;44(11):1834-1839. doi: 10.1017/ice.2023.51. Epub 2023 Apr 4.


OBJECTIVE: Quantify the frequency and drivers of unreported coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms among nursing home (NH) staff.

DESIGN: Confidential telephone survey.

SETTING: The study was conducted in 70 NHs in Orange County, California, December 2020-February 2022.

PARTICIPANTS: The study included 120 NH staff with COVID-19.

METHODS: We designed a 40-item telephone survey of NH staff to assess COVID-19 symptom reporting behavior and types of barriers [monetary, logistic, and emotional (fear or stigma)] and facilitators of symptom reporting using 5-point Likert scales. Summary statistics, reliability of survey constructs, and construct and discriminant validity were assessed.

RESULTS: Overall, 49% of surveys were completed during the 2020-2021 COVID-19 winter wave and 51% were completed during severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) δ (delta)/ (omicron) waves, with a relatively even distribution of certified nursing assistants, licensed vocational or registered nurses, and nonfrontline staff. Most COVID-19 cases (71%) were detected during mandated weekly NH surveillance testing and most staff (67%) had ≥1 symptom prior to their test. Only 34% of those with symptoms disclosed their symptom to a supervisor. Responses were consistent across 8 discrete survey constructs with Cronbach α > 0.70. In the first wave of the pandemic, fear and lack of knowledge were drivers of symptom reporting. In later waves, adequate staffing and sick days were drivers of symptom reporting. COVID-19 help lines and encouragement from supervisors facilitated symptom reporting and testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Mandatory COVID-19 testing for NH staff is key to identifying staff COVID-19 cases due to reluctance to speak up about existing symptoms. Active encouragement from supervisors to report symptoms and stay home when ill was a major driver of symptom reporting and resultant infection prevention and worker safety measures.

PMID:37990904 | DOI:10.1017/ice.2023.51

By Nevin Manimala

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