Responding to Health Care Professionals' Mental Health Needs During COVID-19 Through the Rapid Implementation of Project ECHO.

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INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic can cause significant mental health distress among health care professionals (HCPs). We describe the psychological needs of HCPs during COVID-19 and the implementation of Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Coping with COVID (ECHO-CWC) to help HCPs manage COVID-19 distress.

METHODS: We used an established rapid implementation approach to accelerate the development and delivery of ECHO-CWC to address the emerging needs of HCPs. Participants' needs were identified using a 10-question survey of participants' perceived risk of COVID-19 and a five-item self-efficacy measure. Implementation outcomes consisted of participant engagement and session satisfaction scores using a five-point Likert scale.

RESULTS: A total of 426 participants registered for ECHO-CWC. Needs assessment data (n = 129) showed that most participants reported feeling increased stress at work (84.5%), fear of infecting others (75.2%), and fear of falling ill (70.5%) from COVID-19, yet most participants accepted the risk associated with work during this time (59.7%). Participants were highly satisfied with the initial five sessions (mean = 4.26).

DISCUSSION: HCPs reported the greatest concern with fears of infection and infecting others during the acute phase of the pandemic. Using an iterative curriculum design approach and existing implementation frameworks, the ECHO tele-education model can be rapidly mobilized to address HCPs' mental health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.