May 28, 2020

UCalgary researchers want to know how COVID-19 is affecting our health-care workers

Study underway in Cumming School of Medicine to better understand impact of pandemic
Dr. Sofia Ahmed, MD
Dr. Sofia Ahmed, MD, is leading a study to learn how COVID-19 is impacting health care workers. Submitted by Sofia Ahmed

After learning of potential high-risk exposure to COVID-19, Dr. Jason Weatherald, MD, knew that going home wasn’t an option. His wife is pregnant, and the couple has a two-year-old child. So Weatherald quickly arranged to quarantine in a friend’s basement for a few weeks.

“When something like that happens, the seriousness of the situation hits home for health-care workers and their families very quickly,” says Weatherald, a lung specialist, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine and member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).

Over the next weeks, Weatherald experienced no symptoms and was eventually able to return to work and to his family at home. His story is one example of many experiences health-care workers around the world have gone through during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jason Weatherald

Jason Weatherald

Study investigates impacts to health-care workers

Dr. Sofia Ahmed, MD, is leading a study to learn how COVID-19 is impacting health-care workers. In May, Ahmed (pictured at top) released the survey seeking information from health-care professionals on their individual experiences with the pandemic. It included questions about area of health care, type of practice (rural or urban), sex and gender, the impact the pandemic has had on clinical and research work, and their well-being as well as other areas. 

“In many countries, health-care workers are being impacted by the pandemic in terms of their work and personal responsibilities, which may differ depending on a person’s identity, roles and relationships,” Ahmed says. “We wish to explore this impact and hopefully identify areas where we can learn from this experience and better inform pandemic health care workforce planning in the future.”

The voluntary survey is anonymous and takes five to 10 minutes to complete online. Participants have the option to choose to undergo an additional telephone interview.

“It’s been an opportunity to reflect on the pandemic and how it’s affecting us personally and professionally,” says Weatherald, a study participant who along with treating patients has been conducting research designed to improve breathing for COVID-19 patients.

“It’s important as we go through this to try to better understand both the short- and long-term consequences COVID-19 has for health-care delivery. That can mean anything from how health-care workers deal with the anxiety associated with this work to how technology is transforming health-care delivery, such as seeing more patients virtually instead of in person in the years to come.”

Ahmed is still recruiting participants for the study. Learn more about the study and, if you are a health-care worker, how to participate. 

Sofia Ahmed is a professor in the Department of Medicine at the CSM. She is the lead of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute CV & Me Women’s Cardiovascular Health Initiative and the sex and gender lead for Can-SOLVE CKD, a national research network into chronic kidney disease. She is also a member of the O'Brien Institute for Public Health.


UCalgary resources on COVID-19

For the most up-to-date information about the University of Calgary's response to the spread of COVID-19, visit the UCalgary COVID-19 Response website.