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COVID-19 era public vs. holistic healthcare (EPOSTER: 5mins)

Presentation Description

Background: Humans are deeply wired with a need for social connection. (1) If isolated, our loneliness can manifest into mental and physical health problems such as depression, anxiety, and premature deaths comparable to smoking and obesity. (1-3) Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple public health protocols to continuously wear masks, limit patient visitors, or to pre-emptively self-isolate patients with coughs and dyspnoea has been widespread. This study aims to understand the experience of patients and health providers navigating infection control policies that has limited interpersonal connection.

Method: An anonymous survey relating to care experience was filled by 47 health providers and 20 patients at a rural Canadian hospital. Patients were in hospital during May and June, 2020 with an average stay of 18 days and mean age of 70.5 years. Health provider surveyed included rural hospitalist, general practice physicians, and allied health professionals. All surveys were then analysed and grouped into prevalent themes.

Results: Patients experienced an increase in loneliness and disconnect with family and health providers. Health providers felt that strict protocols had stripped them of a person-centred care approach. Both parties identified strategies to reduce psycho-social implications such as the use of self-portrait print outs and telehealth technologies.

Discussion: These findings suggest that psycho-social implications from prolonged adherence to isolation measures need to be mitigated when strict public health measures are necessary for a prolonged period of time.

Implications for practice: The threat of COVID-19 should not be taken lightly, however, great patient care requires a holistic approach treating the whole persons. Interpersonal connection should continue in a creative way so that public health measures are not compromised. Use of self-portraits, showing unmasked face prior to donning PPE, or use of audio amplifiers for the elderly can be easily incorporated into practice during these times.

References: 1. Santini ZI, Jose PE, Cornwell EY, Koyanagi A, Nielsen L, Hinrichsen C, Meilstrup C, Madsen KR, Koushede V. Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation, and symptoms of depression and anxiety among older Americans (NSHAP): a longitudinal mediation analysis. The Lancet Public Health. 2020 Jan 1;5(1):e62-70. 1. Razai MS, Oakeshott P, Kankam H, Galea S, Stokes-Lampard H. Mitigating the psychological effects of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. bmj. 2020 May 21;369. 2. Armitage R, Nellums LB. COVID-19 and the consequences of isolating the elderly. The Lancet Public Health. 2020 May 1;5(5):e256.

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