Health Workforce Innovations in Response to the COVID Pandemic
Establishing Peer Support Groups in a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is a mix of danger and opportunity. We are facing unprecedented change in
healthcare, and dealing with much uncertainty and complexity. Healthcare workers are experiencing
significant, and possibly enduring, psychological distress. Common concerns voiced to date include lack of
access to personal protective equipment and testing, virus spread and risk of infection to ourselves and
possible spread to patients and family, planning for surge in care demands, stigma, and managing ethical
To help frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, our main focus is to support them to
maintain resilience. When possible, face to face group intervention in the location where the staff are working
is the most powerful intervention. However, during this time of physical distancing, we can leverage use of on-
line communication to offer effective support to a wider community of health care workers at multiple
locations. We have successfully initiated online support groups for Canadian physicians.
During traumatic periods such as pandemics, our interventions should focus on five important goals.
1. Create safety as we intervene to help.
2. Become aware of emotions and put them to words.
3. Teach and highlight concepts and behaviours that increase resiliency.
4. Articulate a sense of meaning and purpose for the present actions.
5. Create a sense of supportive community.