General practitioner experiences during infectious disease public health crises
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What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic poses a significant threat to public health. Information on the experiences of general practitioners (GPs) during such infectious disease public health crises may help improve preparedness. In this integrative systematic review, the authors searched for research into the experiences of GPs working during epidemics or pandemics of infectious respiratory diseases. They restricted their search to articles published in English and did their most recent search in January 2013. They included 6 quantitative surveys, 2 qualitative studies and 2 mixed method studies. Four studies followed the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak (Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore) and six studies followed the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic (Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Hungary, USA and UK). What was found: GPs from different countries experienced similar challenges, suggesting that these findings from the SARS outbreak and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic are transferable. Challenges identified by GPs during the SARS outbreak, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic or both included difficulties with the following: access to information and guidelines; supply, cost and use of personal protective equipment (PPE); obtaining support and communication from public health authorities; training; and the emotional effects of participating in the response to an infectious disease with unknown characteristics and lethality. What’s uncertain: The relatively small amount of research into the experiences of GPs working during epidemics or pandemics of infectious respiratory diseases means that it is uncertain if other important factors have not yet been identified.