Beyond the front line: how nursing research is helping in the fight against COVID-19

Researchers at the Alfred Research Alliance are investigating ways to optimise screening measures, ICU care and patient/family communication.

Prof Tracey Bucknall, Deakin University & Alfred Health

Prof Tracey Bucknall from Deakin University and Alfred Health is leading a number of COVID-19 nursing research projects.

International Nurses Day is held on 12 May each year, Florence Nightingale’s birthday, to honour the wide-ranging contributions of nurses around the world, who make up more than 50% of the global health workforce.

In 2020, the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth and the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the skills, knowledge and dedication of our nurses have been more vital than ever as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To mark International Nurses Day, Professor Caroline Homer from Burnet Institute, Professor Tracey Bucknall from Deakin University/Alfred Health and Adjunct Professor Tanya Farrell from Safer Care Victoria have reflected upon Florence Nightingale’s legacy in their article ‘What would Florence think of nurses and midwives in 2020?’

Nurses have played a critical role on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, often putting their own health at risk to help and support their patients under very challenging circumstances. However, their contribution is by no means limited to the ward – many nurses have also been applying their expertise behind the scenes to advance important research into COVID-19 screening measures, ICU care and patient/family communication.

Here at the Alfred Research Alliance, there are currently four nursing research projects underway, led by Professor Bucknall. Find out more about each of the projects below.

Evaluating the efficacy of non-touch infrared temperature scanners compared to temporal artery infrared scanners for mass fever screening

While there are accurate ways to measure temperature, the most accurate are invasive devices to measure core temperature or non-invasive devices that require direct skin contact and cleaning between users. The aim of this study is to compare temperature measurements using non-contact infrared thermometers with temporal artery thermometer measurements used widely in hospitals.

Investigators: Bucknall, Tracey; Khan, Shahrukh; Decker, Kelly; Saultry, Bridey; Kouzani, Abbas; Adams, Scott.

Evaluating the efficacy of thermal cameras as a mass fever screening tool compared to non-touch infrared temperature measurement

Thermal camera screening solutions use advanced thermal image sensors and facial targeting technology to gather temperature measurements, yet there is a lack of independent studies into the effectiveness and efficacy of these solutions. This study will evaluate the temperature measurement capabilities of the thermal camera solutions when compared with non-touch infrared temperature measurement.

Investigators: Bucknall, Tracey; Kouzani, Abbas; Adams, Scott; Decker, Kelly.

Family perceptions of ICU care and communication during the COVID-19 pandemic

Family members in ICU play a critical support role for patients when they themselves may bear a large psychological burden. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely restricted visiting for families to one hour or less for COVID-19 positive patients. This study will explore the effect of the visiting limitations on the families of ICU patients, in particular the impact on communication between health professionals and families, and their participation in care of the patient.

Investigators: Bucknall, Tracey; Digby, Robin; Leonard, Paul; Hade, Sharon; Ihle, Josh; Orosz, Judit; Manias, Elizabeth; Haines, Kimberley.

Staff experiences using virtual communication with ICU families during the COVID-19 pandemic

In order to maintain communication between staff, families and patients during restricted visiting in ICU during the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative forms of communication were implemented to overcome the lack of face-to-face contact. The impact of these alternative communication channels on staff will be explored in this study.

Investigators: Bucknall, Tracey; Digby, Robin; Hade, Sharon; Ihle, Josh; Orosz, Judit; Manias, Elizabeth.

Want to know more about all the COVID-19 projects happening at the Alfred Research Alliance? Check out our COVID-19 research database here.