Clarity and adaptability of instructions preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its association with individual and organisational factors regarding the psychosocial work environment: a cross-sectional study

BMC Health Serv Res. 2023 Nov 28;23(1):1312. doi: 10.1186/s12913-023-10320-1.


Background: In Sweden, older people in residential care had the highest mortality rates, followed by those who received home care, during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Staff working in the care of older people assumed responsibility for preventing the spread of the virus despite lacking the prerequisites and training. This study aimed to investigate the psychosocial work environment during the COVID-19 pandemic among staff in the care of older people and examine the factors associated with staff's perceptions of the clarity of instructions and the ability to follow them.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was employed using a web survey. The staff's perceptions of their psychosocial environment were analysed using descriptive statistics. The association between organisational and individual factors, as well as the degree of clarity of the instructions and the staff's ability to follow them, were assessed using multivariate (ordinal) regression analysis.

Results: The main findings show that perceptions of the clarity and adaptability of the instructions were primarily correlated with organisational factors, as higher responses (positive) for the subscales focusing on role clarity, support and encouragement in leadership at work were associated with the belief that the instructions were clear. Similarly, those indicating high job demands and high individual learning demands were less likely to report that the instructions were clear. Regarding adaptability, high scores for demands on learning and psychological demands were correlated with lower adaptability, while high scores for role clarity, encouraging leadership and social support, were associated with higher adaptability.

Conclusions: High job demands and individual learning demands were demonstrated to decrease the staff's understanding and adoption of instructions. These findings are significant on an organisational level since the work environment must be prepared for potential future pandemics to promote quality improvement and generally increase patient safety and staff health.

Keywords: COVID-19; Care aide geriatric nursing; Home care service; Nursing assistant; Occupational health; Residential facilities; Work conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires