M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing Launches National COVID-19 Study of Health Care, First Responders and Service Workers


Courtesy of Tim Tai / Philadelphia Inquirer

Nurses work at the nurses’ station inside a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Temple University Hospital’s Boyer Pavilion in North Philadelphia.

Emily Cox Co-Editor-in-Chief

The University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing has launched a major study of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new CHAMPS study will track the physical and mental wellness of front line workers, similar to a study launched for first responders after 9/11.

The national COVID-19 Caring About Health for All Study (CHAMPS) will focus on anyone who cared or supported COVID-19 patients — not just doctors, nurses and first responders. It is the first study of its kind, focusing on numerous people involved with caring for those affected by the novel coronavirus. 

Managing the health care needs of COVID-19 patients has impacted not only those delivering health care directly but those who also support that effort, like ambulance drivers, maintenance staff and housekeeping staff whose services have been essential to maintain the healthcare industry. All of these front line workers are at increased risk of exposure to the virus, as well as disruption of their social and personal lives.

“They could not do their jobs without the support of cafeteria workers, the maintenance staff, the custodial staff, and so forth, and we sometimes forget these people are playing exceedingly important roles,” Professor Peter Kaufmann, PhD, FABMR, FSBM, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation said.

The purpose of the COVID-19 CHAMPS Study is to learn about the self-reported health and well-being of COVID-19 healthcare workers and others who work in healthcare settings or in communities to support the care of COVID-19 patients across the United States. Leaders of the research hope to understand both immediate and long-term effects on the health, lives and careers of front line workers, as well as discover new ways to keep front line workers healthy while working.

“I’m concerned that we’re going to see higher levels of burnout than we already have been [seeing], especially amongst health care professionals, but, as Peter says, all of the workers and their families,” Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean of the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing said.

This study will obtain data on the physical and mental health and well being of workers potentially exposed to the coronavirus in the course of their duties. Included will be a broad range of occupations, such as those working in the community (police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel, screening staff), as well as in permanent or temporary sites that care for patients (service staff, nurses, physicians, other health professionals). Participants will be recruited throughout the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands), with outcomes followed longitudinally for 20 years.

“It is vital that we learn from this experience and understand the broad scope of the impact on the health of those on the front lines, their potential future health needs and to contribute knowledge to inform public health strategies that provide effective care when similar crises develop in the future,” Havens said.

“We owe it to the police officers, paramedics, service staff, nurses and physicians, to learn about the effects that their sacrifices have had on their lives – and we will accomplish this through the CHAMPS study,”  Dr. Kaufmann explained. “It will take many years for the various effects of their work to play out.  We intend to follow those who join this study for many years to assure that we understand how best to support them and to plan for any future disasters.”