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Guidance for Health Care Worker (HCW) Surveys in Humanitarian Contexts in LMICs

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Developed by the Social Sciences Analysis Cell (CASS) and the Research Roadmap to support those working with communities and healthcare workers in humanitarian and emergency contexts

This document has been developed for response actors working in humanitarian contexts who seek rapid approaches to gathering evidence about the experience of healthcare workers, and the communities of which they are a part.
Understanding healthcare worker experience is critical to inform and guide humanitarian programming and effective strategies to promote IPC, identify psychosocial support needs.
This evidence also informs humanitarian programming that interacts with HCWs and facilities such as nutrition, health reinforcement, communication, SGBV and gender.

In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), healthcare workers (HCW) are often faced with limited resources, equipment, performance support and even formal training to provide the life-saving work expected of them. In humanitarian contexts1 , where human resources are also scarce, HCWs may comprise formally trained doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, allied health professionals etc. as well as community members who perform formal health worker related duties with little or no trainingi . These HCWs frequently work in contexts of multiple public health crises, including COVID-19. Their work will be affected by availability of resources (limited supplies, materials), behaviour and emotion (fear), flows of (mis)information (e.g. understanding of expected infection prevention and control (IPC) measures) or services (healthcare policies, services and use). Multiple factors can therefore impact patients, HCWs and their families, not only in terms of risk of exposure to COVID-19, but secondary health, socio-economic and psycho-social risks, as well as constraints that interrupt or hinder healthcare provision such as physical distancing practices.

The development and dissemination of training and guidance for HCWs is important for any new infectious disease outbreak. Equally, evaluation of their appropriateness and utility, their impacts on HCW performance and behaviour, and their effectiveness (perceived or measured against programmatic outcome indicators) is important to adapt and improve the appropriateness and effectiveness of resources for HCWs.

We recommend HCW surveys are included as a critical component of research associated to humanitarian programming for communities and community health outcomes.