IGTP researchers study the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on people through a citizen survey
Researchers of the Experimental Tuberculosis Unit at the IGTP have launched a questionnaire to ask the public how they are being affected by the pandemic. The project, led by Dr Cristina Vilaplana, will collect replies from the public using a standard questionnaire to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on people, including healthcare workers including effects on health, emotional wellbeing and family finances.
The Experimental Tuberculosis Unit is mainly dedicated to the study of tuberculosis, an infectious disease that usually affects the respiratory tract. For the last four years the group led by Dr Cristina Vilaplana has been following a research line focused on measuring the quality of life of people in the context of infectious diseases, so that they can study people suffering from them in a more holistic and humanistic way. The group has published several studies in this field and now they are now pushing to use this expertise to respond to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on people. This includes the effects on healthcare workers and evaluations of the effects on health, but also emotional wellbeing and family finances.
The study is being carried out using a questionnaire distributed through instant messaging and social networks to reach as many people as possible.
"We are using the snowball strategy, so that everybody can participate. The results we obtain will on the one hand help us to better understand the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on the general wellbeing of the population and health workers; and on the other hand to develop strategies with those in charge of institutions in order to adapt to the real needs of the people," explains Vilaplana. The questionnaire has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Germans Trias I Pujol Hospital and the results of the study will be published in a scientific article and will be publicy available.
At the start of April, just in Catalonia, around 25,000 cases of infection by SARS-CoV2 have been confirmed and more than 2,500 deaths registered due to the disease.
"After more than 2 months since the first case was notified in Spain and after three weeks of quarantine and self-isolation in Catalonia the emotional load on the community has increased," considers Vilaplana, "thanks to the studies in countries that the virus has affected before and on other situations of generalized quarantine, we know that these situations leave an important mark on people's mental health."
Other important outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as the recent SARS epidemic, have been shown to have an important impact on individuals and their communities and especially so for first-line healthcare professionals. In general there is a negative impact, although it is true that a raised level of anxiety and alert is necessary so that people can quickly and rigorously adopt the recommended safety measures needed during outbreaks.
"Because of all of this, in order to implement public health actions it is essential to understand people's attitudes and the psychological impact on them," concludes Vilaplana.