Exploring the Psychosocial and Health Service Consequences of Coronavirus on Children and their Families: Lessons Learned for Pediatric Health Care Practice and Policy
Outbreaks such as COVID‑19 risk deleteriously affecting the quality of pediatric health care. For vulnerable children (e.g., those with COVID‑19 or other respiratory conditions, those who are immunosuppressed, those with a terminal illness), person/family-centred care is essential to their health and well-being particularly in times of systemic challenge, which paradoxically is taxed during a pandemic outbreak. Studies have shown that outbreaks like COVID‑19 strain practices such as imposing stringent infectious control procedures as well as widespread stigma and fear. These shifts risk negative impacts on tangible, relational (e.g., communication) and psychosocial aspects of care that can exacerbate patient anxiety and isolation both in and out of hospital. Procedural and other shifts in care may be needed to diminish negative impacts and conversely optimize patient care. Using qualitative data collection, this study will illuminate the perspectives of children, their families, and health care providers about how the COVID‑19 outbreak has impacted public health and institutional health care delivery. Pediatric care processes and stakeholder experiences will be explored via ground theory methods. We will recruit pediatric patients with varying conditions, their parents and health care providers. Diversity in family ethno-cultural and socio-economic backgrounds will be sought. Interviews, focus groups and a Delphi consultation will be conducted, as will a comparison of these findings relative to similar data collected by members of this team during the 2003 Canadian SARS outbreak. Accordingly, potential advances in pandemic preparedness and care will be appraised. Recommendations for practice and policy will be offered.