Chat box usage supports primary care staff needs for information, resources and peer support during COVID-19 crisis

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As COVID-19 swept across the country in 2020, primary care medical staff were forced to make dramatic changes to their practices with little to no assistance and inconsistent guidance from the federal government. Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University created an 11-session COVID-19 Extension for Community Outcomes (ECHO) program, which served as a telementoring education model for clinicians involved in the ongoing pandemic crisis. They encouraged interactions between the participants via a chat box. Researchers used the text extracted from chat box interactions to assess how communications within the statewide program identified and fulfilled some of the clinicians’ needs during the pandemic.

Researchers conducted a qualitative analysis of 11 chat box transcripts and explored the context of clinicians’ needs, as conceptualized by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which include physiological and self-actualization needs, in addition to safety, love, belonging and esteem. Steeves-Reece et al identified three key content themes from clinicians using the chat box: 1) answers and trustworthy information; 2) practical resources; and 3) affirmation and peer support.

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