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Perceived preparedness to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic: A study with healthcare workers in Ghana

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AbstractIntroductionHealthcare workers’ (HCWs) preparedness to respond to pandemics is critical to containing disease spread. Low-resource countries, however, experience barriers to preparedness due to limited resources. In Ghana, a country with a constrained healthcare system and high COVID-19 cases, we examined HCWs’ perceived preparedness to respond to COVID-19 and associated factors.Methods472 HCWs completed questions in a cross-sectional self-administered online survey. Perceived preparedness was assessed using a 15-question scale (Cronbach alpha=0.91) and summative scores were created (range=0-45). Higher scores meant greater perceived preparedness. We used linear regression with robust standard errors to examine associations between perceived preparedness and potential predictors.ResultsThe average preparedness score was 24 (SD=8.9); 27.8% of HCWs felt prepared. In multivariate analysis, factors associated with higher perceived preparedness were: training (β=3.35, 95%CI: to 4.69); having adequate PPE (β=2.27, 95%CI: 0.26 to 4.29), an isolation ward (β=2.74, 95%CI: 1.15 to 4.33), and protocols for screening (β=2.76, 95%CI: 0.95 to 4.58); and good perceived communication from management (β=5.37, 95%CI: 4.03 to 7.90). When added to the model, perceived knowledge decreased the effect of training by 28.0%, although training remained significant, suggesting a partial mediating role. Perceived knowledge was associated with a 6-point increase in perceived preparedness score (β=6.04, 95%CI: 4.19 to 7.90).ConclusionHCWs reported low perceived preparedness to respond to COVID-19. Training, clear protocols, PPE availability, isolation wards, and communication play an important role in increasing preparedness. Government stakeholders must institute necessary interventions to increase HCWs’ preparedness to respond to the ongoing pandemic and prepare for future pandemics.Strengths and limitations of this studyThis is one of the few studies globally to empirically examine Healthcare workers’ (HCWs) perceived preparedness to respond to COVID-19, and the first study to do so among HCWs in Ghana and in Africa.We developed a perceived preparedness for COVID-19 scale and conducted psychometric analysis to confirm its validity and reliability; this scale can facilitate similar research in other settings.We show that providers have low perceived preparedness to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that this is associated with a lack of training on COVID-19, PPE, clear protocols, and isolation wards, as well as poor communication from management.The use of an online survey with recruitment via social media may have accounted for a relatively young sample.Findings are based on self-reported data from a cross-sectional survey, thus, there may be social desirability bias and associations described are not causal.

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