Abstract / Description of output
INTRODUCTION: The global pandemic caused by novel Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to an unprecedented demand on critical care resources. The United Kingdom experienced its 'first wave' of Coronavirus-19 (Covid-19) disease in Spring 2020. Critical care units had to make major changes to their working practices in a short space of time and faced multiple challenges in doing so, including the challenge of caring for patients in multiple organ failure secondary to Covid-19 infection in the absence of an established evidence base of best practice. We undertook a qualitative investigation of the personal and professional challenges faced by critical care consultants in one Scottish health board in acquiring and evaluating information to guide clinical decision making during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
METHODS: Critical care consultants in NHS Lothian working in critical care from March to May 2020 were eligible to participate in the study. Participants were invited to take part in a one-to-one semi structured interview conducted using Microsoft Teams videoconferencing software. Reflexive thematic analysis was used as the method for data analysis using qualitative research methodology informed by a subtle realist position.
RESULTS: Analysis of the interview data generated the following themes: The Knowledge Gap; Trust in Information; and Implications for Practice. Illustrative quotes are presented in the text and thematic tables.
DISCUSSION: This study explored the experiences of critical care consultant physicians in acquiring and evaluating information to guide clinical decision making during the first wave of the SARS CoV2 pandemic. This study revealed that clinicians were profoundly affected by the pandemic and the ways in which it changed how they could access information to guide clinical decision making. The paucity of reliable information on SARS-CoV-2 posed a significant threat to the clinical confidence of participants. Two strategies were adopted to ease mounting pressures - an organised approach to data collection and the establishment of a local community of collaborative decision-making. These findings contribute to the wider literature by describing health care professionals' experiences in unprecedented times and could inform recommendations for future clinical practice. This could include governance around responsible information sharing in professional instant messaging groups, and medical journal guidelines on suspension of usual peer review and other quality assurance processes during pandemics.
Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)
- SARS CoV 2
- evidence based medicine
- information governance
- qualitative research