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Papers: 18 Jul 2020 - 24 Jul 2020


2020 Jul 21


Eleven things not to say to healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Robblee J, Buse DC, Halker Singh RB, Schusse CM, Riggins N, Rayhill ML, Loder EW, Donnelly M, Borrero-Mejias C
Headache. 2020 Jul 21.
PMID: 32696455.


On March 11, 2020, the infection caused by the COVID-19 virus was declared a pandemic. Throughout this pandemic, healthcare professionals have experienced difficulties stemming from poor communications, resource scarcity, lack of transparency, disbelief, and threats to the safety of their loved ones, their patients, and themselves. As part of these hardships, negative statements have been heard repeatedly. This paper describes 11 scenarios of unhelpful and dysfunctional messages heard by the authors and their colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported to us by a combination of peers, administrative leadership, and the public. We explain why not to use such messaging, and we suggest more helpful and compassionate expressions based upon recommendations published by scientific organizations and well-established psychological principles. The first 10 scenarios discussed include 1) lack of understanding regarding the extent of the pandemic, 2) shaming over not seeing patients in person, 3) lack of clear and consistent communication from leadership on pandemic-related practice changes, 4) opinions that personal protective equipment use by healthcare professionals causes fear or is unnecessary, 5) forcing in-person care without appropriate personal protective equipment, 6) the risk of exposure to asymptomatic individuals as it relates to opening clinics, 7) media gag orders, 8) pay and benefit reductions, 9) spreading of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, and 10) workload expectations. The 11th scenario addresses healthcare professionals' psychological and physical reactions to this challenging and prolonged stressful situation. We close by discussing the need for support and compassion at this difficult and unpredictable time and by offering suggestions to foster resilience and feelings of self-efficacy among healthcare professionals.