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A survey and panel discussion of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on paediatric urological productivity, guideline adherence and provider stress

O'Kelly, F.; Sparks, S.; Seideman, C.; Gargollo, P.; Granberg, C.; Ko, J.; Malhotra, N.; Hecht, S.; Swords, K.; Rowe, C.; Whittam, B.; Spinoit, A. F.; Dudley, A.; Ellison, J.; Chu, D.; Routh, J.; Cannon, G.; Kokorowski, P.; Koyle, M.; Silay, M. S.

J Pediatr Urol. 2020 Jul 19


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented need to re-organise and re-align priorities for all surgical specialties. Despite the current declining numbers globally, the direct effects of the pandemic on institutional practices and on personal stress and coping mechanisms remains unknown. The aims of this study were to assess the effect of the pandemic on daily scheduling and work balances, its effects on stress, and to determine compliance with guidelines and to assess whether quarantining has led to other areas of increased productivity. METHODS: A trans-Atlantic convenience sample of paediatric urologists was created in which panellists (Zoom) discussed the direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on individual units, as well as creating a questionnaire using a mini-Delphi method to provide current semi-quantitative data regarding practice, and adherence levels to recently published risk stratification guidelines. They also filled out a Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) questionnaire to assess contemporary pandemic stress levels. RESULTS: There was an 86% response rate from paediatric urologists. The majority of respondents reported near complete disruption to planned operations (70%), and trainee education (70%). They were also worried about the effects of altered home-lives on productivity (≤90%), as well as a lack of personal protective equipment (57%). The baseline stress rate was measured at a very high level (PSS) during the pandemic. Adherence to recent operative guidelines for urgent cases was 100%. CONCLUSION: This study represents a panel discussion of a number of practical implications for paediatric urologists, and is one of the few papers to assess more pragmatic effects and combines opinions from both sides of the Atlantic. The impact of the pandemic has been very significant for paediatric urologists and includes a decrease in the number of patients seen and operated on, decreased salary, increased self-reported stress levels, substantially increased telemedicine usage, increased free time for various activities, and good compliance with guidelines and hospital management decisions.

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