Background: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been concerns related to the preparedness of healthcare workers (HCWs). This study aimed to describe the level of awareness and preparedness of hospital HCWs at the time of the first wave.
Methods: This multinational, multicenter, cross-sectional survey was conducted among hospital HCWs from February to May 2020. We used a hierarchical logistic regression multivariate analysis to adjust the influence of variables based on awareness and preparedness. We then used association rule mining to identify relationships between HCW confidence in handling suspected COVID-19 patients and prior COVID-19 case-management training.
Results: We surveyed 24,653 HCWs from 371 hospitals across 57 countries and received 17,302 responses from 70.2% HCWs overall. The median COVID-19 preparedness score was 11.0 (interquartile range [IQR] = 6.0-14.0) and the median awareness score was 29.6 (IQR = 26.6-32.6). HCWs at COVID-19 designated facilities with previous outbreak experience, or HCWs who were trained for dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, had significantly higher levels of preparedness and awareness (p<0.001). Association rule mining suggests that nurses and doctors who had a 'great-extent-of-confidence' in handling suspected COVID-19 patients had participated in COVID-19 training courses. Male participants (mean difference = 0.34; 95% CI = 0.22, 0.46; p<0.001) and nurses (mean difference = 0.67; 95% CI = 0.53, 0.81; p<0.001) had higher preparedness scores compared to women participants and doctors.
Interpretation: There was an unsurprising high level of awareness and preparedness among HCWs who participated in COVID-19 training courses. However, disparity existed along the lines of gender and type of HCW. It is unknown whether the difference in COVID-19 preparedness that we detected early in the pandemic may have translated into disproportionate SARS-CoV-2 burden of disease by gender or HCW type.