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Special Issue "Training, Education and Research in COVID-19 Times: Innovative Methodological Approaches, Best Practices, and Case Studies"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Health and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (23 August 2021).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Miltiadis D. Lytras
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Business, Deree—The American College of Greece, 6 Gravias Street, GR-153 42 Aghia Paraskevi Athens, Greece
Interests: cognitive computing; artificial intelligence; data science; bioinformatics; innovation; big data research; data mining; emerging technologies; information systems; technology driven innovation; knowledge management; semantic web
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Abdulrahman Housawi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Planning and Organizational Excellence Administration, Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Interests: medical education; quality in training; innovation; saudi commission for health specialties; smart healthcare
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Basim Alsaywid
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Planning and Organizational Excellence Administration, Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2. College of Medicine, King Saud Bin-Abdul-Aziz University for Health Sciences, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
3. Urology Section, Department of Surgery, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Ministry of National Guard, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Interests: medical education; quality in training; innovation; saudi commission for health specialties; smart healthcare
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The recent pandemic of covid-19 challenges the delivery of training and education worldwide. In parallel, research in the times of covid-19 becomes more demanding in terms of research methodologies and the delivery of sound scientific contributions.

In this Special Issue we are interested in analyzing the diversified training, education, and research context in the times of the covid-19 pandemic. Our intention is to analyze the key implications of the modified online mode of delivery as well as the components of strategies and policies that enhance the social value and the social impact of training, education, and research.

Our intended contribution is multifold:

  • To promote recent sound research on effective training, education, and research strategies and methodologies;
  • To contribute to the body of knowledge by promoting sound methodological approaches for effective training, education, and research in covid-19 times;
  • To communicate best practices and key lessons learned related to training, education, and research in the covid-19 period;
  • To invite to the relevant scientific debate diverse communities from different domains of human activity including medical training and research, business training and education, information systems and computer sciences education, etc.
  • To contribute to the discipline of training and education by synthesizing complementary approaches, limitations, and key findings.

Topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Training strategies in the covid-19 period;
  • Effective technology for enhanced learning interventions in the covid-19 period;
  • Transforming education from off-line to on-line paradigm in the covid-19 period;
  • Research excellence and strategies in the covid-19 period;
  • Enhancing the skills, competencies, and knowledge of trainees in the covid-19 period;
  • Engagement, interaction, and active training and learning in the covid-19 period;
  • Higher education best practices for delivering top-quality education in the covid-19 period;
  • Case studies in medical training and research;
  • Business training and education;
  • Information systems and computer sciences education;
  • Strategic frameworks for training, education, and research efficiency in covid-19 times;
  • Key performance indicators and learning analytics for measuring the effectiveness of online training in the times of covid-19;
  • Integration of academia and industry for training, education and research;
  • Social networks research for enhanced training, education, and research in covid-19 times;
  • Quality initiatives for effective training, education, and research in covid-19 times.

Prof. Dr. Miltiadis D. Lytras
Dr. Abdulrahman Housawi
Dr. Basim Alsaywid
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • training
  • education
  • research
  • medical education
  • business education
  • higher education
  • technology-enhanced learning
  • covid-19
  • research excellence
  • social networks in education
  • trainee satisfaction

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Training, Education, and Research in COVID-19 Times: Innovative Methodological Approaches, Best Practices, and Case Studies
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9650; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13179650 - 27 Aug 2021
Viewed by 528
Abstract
The recent pandemic of COVID-19 challenges the delivery of training and education worldwide [...] Full article

Research

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Article
The Critical Factors of Student Performance in MOOCs for Sustainable Education: A Case of Chinese Universities
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 8089; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13148089 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 879
Abstract
COVID-19 has drastically changed human life, both in the current era and, no doubt, in the years to come. One of the hot topics during this period is whether and how COVID-19 will change education patterns in the next few years. This study [...] Read more.
COVID-19 has drastically changed human life, both in the current era and, no doubt, in the years to come. One of the hot topics during this period is whether and how COVID-19 will change education patterns in the next few years. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between massive open online courses (MOOCs) and students’ learning performance. To that end, this study combined the gamification concept with the modified information systems (IS) success model and the expectation–confirmation model (ECM) for building a research model. We surveyed 586 students through an online survey and tested the hypotheses. The research results indicated that MOOCs’ information quality (IQ), system quality (SQ), and service quality (SEQ) had positive influences on the confirmation, which then affected MOOCs’ usefulness, satisfaction, and gamification. Students’ continued usage intention and course performance were positively influenced by usefulness and gamification. Students’ continued usage intention of MOOCs also positively affected course performance. The relationship between gamification and satisfaction, however, was not proved. The research results also showed that gamification, which was composed of entertainment, challenge, and social interaction, played a critical role in improving students’ continued usage intention of MOOCs and their course performance. Full article
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Article
Cyber-Physical System of Psychophysiological Support of Professional Self-Realization in Professions of the ‘Man-Nature’ Type in the Formation of Specialists for Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7858; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13147858 - 14 Jul 2021
Viewed by 402
Abstract
The article deals with the issue of developing a cyber-physical system of a psychological profile of a specialist in professions of the ‘man-nature’ type in the formation of specialists for sustainable development. The proposed cyber-physical system of psychophysiological support of professional self-realization in [...] Read more.
The article deals with the issue of developing a cyber-physical system of a psychological profile of a specialist in professions of the ‘man-nature’ type in the formation of specialists for sustainable development. The proposed cyber-physical system of psychophysiological support of professional self-realization in professions of the ‘man-nature’ type is presented in the form of a hierarchical structure, the upper level of which reflects the vision of the customer (client) and contains the necessary properties and their significance coefficients, and the lower level is a set of characteristics that affect the corresponding properties as well as the corresponding weight values. The cyber-physical system makes it possible to clearly represent the psychophysiological profile of a specialist when working on building a standard of a specialist using the method of expert assessments. This system also allows you to easily automate the process of creating a reference model of a specialist for professions of the ‘man-nature’ type and will provide estimates of the significance of each of the obtained characteristics. The novelty of the cyber-physical system lies in the integration of points of view on the professional self-realization of a specialist on the part of the customer and on the part of psychologists. The significance of the upper-level elements comes from experts (customers) for each profile, while the weights of the relationship between characteristics and a certain quality are constant regardless of the specialty and can be obtained from expert psychologists in advance. Based on the analysis of a formalized description of available psychodiagnostic techniques, a generalized model of psychodiagnostic techniques and a structural model of a set of psychodiagnostic techniques have been developed. This approach differs from the known ones in a formalized representation, as well as taking into account the vector of resources necessary for the implementation of the technique. The proposed approach made it possible for the first time to formulate the problem of choosing a set of psychodiagnostic techniques as an optimization problem. The developed complex of algorithms, containing all the characteristics of cybernetic systems, is controllable and consists of a set of subsystems that act as mechanisms for the restoration and implementation of self-preserving reactions. That is, this complex of algorithms is effective, which is characterized by a certain set of parameters. Hence, the key role of the system of transmission and processing of information in training specialists for sustainable development becomes clear, and the importance of intellectualization of management processes is explained. Full article
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Article
Building on Strategic eLearning Initiatives of Hybrid Graduate Education a Case Study Approach: MHEI-ME Erasmus+ Project
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7675; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13147675 - 09 Jul 2021
Viewed by 664
Abstract
Online courses are gaining popularity because they provide extensive and varied course material, information, knowledge, and skills, whilst also creating an effective educational online community. This research adopts a case study approach to focus on the teaching method and the manner in which [...] Read more.
Online courses are gaining popularity because they provide extensive and varied course material, information, knowledge, and skills, whilst also creating an effective educational online community. This research adopts a case study approach to focus on the teaching method and the manner in which a strategic commitment to eLearning provides scope for the development and implementation of top quality educational online fully accredited programs. Entrepreneurship focuses on developing businesses that add value and create wealth and prosperity in our societies. Therefore, entrepreneurship is a key area of learning for graduate students seeking to set up and operate their own SME organizations. It can serve as a benchmark for the teaching of other graduate subjects that require a sound correlation for the correlation of concepts and theories to the challenging complexities of the real world. The program was developed on the basis of the implementation of a state-of-the-art eLearning platform that allowed for a combination of varied self-learning and collaborative learning elements and activities within a single platform. This enabled students to access the online content material efficiently and effectively. It allows for the development of a program based on the flipped classroom teaching methodology. The underlying concept of the flipped classroom methodology is that effective eLearning should comprise both synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. This combination of self-learning and collaborative learning calls for careful planning by the tutor to ensure that the learning objectives are clearly defined for each activity and that the relevant deliverables are monitored. The content material for each subject course module was designed, developed, produced, and presented by the different project partners in a holistic manner structured to motivate participants to learn. The results of our analysis have shown that students were able to learn, discuss their projects, and cooperate during an online course in an effective and participant-focused manner with their tutors. The feedback given highlights the importance of ongoing communications between students and the tutors who often need to act as mentors to retain student engagement. Full article
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Article
University Students’ Perception, Evaluation, and Spaces of Distance Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Austria: What Can We Learn for Post-Pandemic Educational Futures?
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7595; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13147595 - 07 Jul 2021
Viewed by 849
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic caught societies worldwide unprepared in 2020. In Austria, after a lockdown was decreed on 16 March 2020, educational institutions had to switch to a patched-up distance learning approach, which has been largely maintained to date. This article delivers empirical insights [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic caught societies worldwide unprepared in 2020. In Austria, after a lockdown was decreed on 16 March 2020, educational institutions had to switch to a patched-up distance learning approach, which has been largely maintained to date. This article delivers empirical insights from an interdisciplinary mixed-methods research study that investigated university students’ perceptions of and experiences with distance learning as well as their educational (home) spaces during the pandemic in Innsbruck, Austria. It combines results from a quantitative survey conducted with 2742 students in early 2021 with a qualitative multi-method and longitudinal research study that accompanied 98 students throughout four data-collection phases in 2020. Results show a significant improvement since spring 2020 with both teachers and learners adjusting to the distance learning formats and the use of digital tools, yet students urgently desired a return to face-to-face teaching and university life, particularly for its social benefits. Strikingly, more than half of the participants wanted to maintain the option of overall distance education after the pandemic. Based on the perspectives of students, it is appropriate to demand significant changes in post-pandemic education adapted to the era of the post-digital, for which this article gives short-term as well as medium-term recommendations. Full article
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Article
Multilevel Antecedents of Organizational Speed: The Exemplary Case of a Small Italian R&D Organization
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7502; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13137502 - 05 Jul 2021
Viewed by 518
Abstract
The COVID-19 outbreak has compelled many organizations to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. In this context, the aim of this article is to unveil how a small R&D organization has been able to rapidly take advantage of the opportunities offered by the [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 outbreak has compelled many organizations to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. In this context, the aim of this article is to unveil how a small R&D organization has been able to rapidly take advantage of the opportunities offered by the COVID-19 outbreak and to understand the factors that have enabled organizational speed. Results of the qualitative analysis of this exemplary single case show that a combination of factors at the individual level (i.e., characteristics of the CEO and collaborators), organizational level (i.e., structure, resources, operative systems and processes, culture), and partner level (i.e., characteristics of the partner portfolio) is required to go through a very fast recognition–decision–execution process. Full article
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Article
Factors Influencing Students’ Behavior and Attitude towards Online Education during COVID-19
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7469; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13137469 - 04 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1551
Abstract
Universities around the world have faced a new pandemic, forcing the closure of campuses that are now conducting educational activities on online platforms. The paper presents a survey about students behavior and attitudes towards online education in the pandemic period from the Technical [...] Read more.
Universities around the world have faced a new pandemic, forcing the closure of campuses that are now conducting educational activities on online platforms. The paper presents a survey about students behavior and attitudes towards online education in the pandemic period from the Technical University of Cluj Napoca, Romania. A group of 300 students participated. The questionnaire was structured in four parts to determine student’s individual characteristics, student’s needs, students’ knowledge in using virtual platforms and students’ quality preferences for online education. The students said that online education in a pandemic situation is beneficial for 78% of them. A total of 41.7% percent of students appreciated the teachers’ teaching skills and the quality of online courses since the beginning of the pandemic, and 18.7% percent of the students appreciated the additional online materials for study to support their education. However, students found online education stressful, but preferred online assessment for evaluation. This pandemic has led to the new stage of Education 4.0, online education, and the need to harmonize methods of education with the requirements of new generations. Full article
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Article
Impact of COVID-19 on the Educational Process in Saudi Arabia: A Technology–Organization–Environment Framework
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7103; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13137103 - 24 Jun 2021
Viewed by 774
Abstract
The lockdown of universities and educational institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the educational process. Saudi Arabia became a forerunner during COVID-19 by taking initial precautions of curfews and total restrictions. However, these restrictions had a disruptive effect on various sectors, [...] Read more.
The lockdown of universities and educational institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the educational process. Saudi Arabia became a forerunner during COVID-19 by taking initial precautions of curfews and total restrictions. However, these restrictions had a disruptive effect on various sectors, specifically the educational sector. The Ministry of Education strived to cope with the consequences of these changes swiftly by shifting to online education. This paper aims to study the impact of COVID-19 on the educational process through a comparative study of the responses collected from different cases, and the challenges that are faced throughout the educational process. The study conducted a cross-sectional, self-administered online questionnaire during the outbreak and distance learning, which was designed based on the Technology–Organization–Environment (TOE) framework of students. Most questions used a five-point Likert scale. The responses were randomly collected from 150 undergraduate and postgraduate students who were studying in Saudi Arabian universities, to study the overall performance of education institutions during COVID-19. The collected data were analyzed and compared to the results in the literature. The main factors impacted by this transformation are addressed. These factors are based on research and observations and aim to overcome the encountered limitations and to present their level of impact on distance education. The research framework can be useful for higher educational authorities aiming to overcome the issues highlighted and discussed in this study. Full article
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Article
Factors Influencing the Adoption of COVID-19 Preventive Behaviors in Chile
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5331; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13105331 - 11 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 999
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic forced people worldwide to implement a series of preventive hygiene and distancing measures that have significantly altered their way of life. This study examined an adapted version of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) on adopting preventive behavior against COVID-19. [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced people worldwide to implement a series of preventive hygiene and distancing measures that have significantly altered their way of life. This study examined an adapted version of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) on adopting preventive behavior against COVID-19. Data was collected using a web survey completed by 1004 college students a few weeks after the first wave of infections in Chile. Our findings show that the subjective norm was the strongest predictor of adopting preventive behaviors, followed by the knowledge level and perceived behavioral control. Contrary to expectations, we found no evidence that an attitude towards preventive action predicted actual adoption of preventive behavior against COVID-19. However, knowledge and social norms play a significant role. We discuss implications for effective risk communication. Full article
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Article
The Effectiveness of Online Education during Covid 19 Pandemic—A Comparative Analysis between the Perceptions of Academic Students and High School Students from Romania
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5311; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095311 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3015
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal activities such as going to school, moving education online. Based on data gathered through a survey (N = 784), this paper analyses students’ perceptions regarding the effectiveness of online education in a period when this type of [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal activities such as going to school, moving education online. Based on data gathered through a survey (N = 784), this paper analyses students’ perceptions regarding the effectiveness of online education in a period when this type of education is the only available option. Although several studies suggest that online education can be as effective as traditional education which requires attendance, few studies have focused on learner satisfaction with online instruction, particularly in the transition to online learning from traditional approaches. The results indicate that students react differently to online education, and their reaction is based on their proficiency in using online tools, their ability to technically access online courses, and the instructors’ manner in conducting learning activities. Full article
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Article
Residents’ Training in COVID-19 Pandemic Times: An Integrated Survey of Educational Process, Institutional Support, Anxiety and Depression by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS)
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10530; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su122410530 - 16 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 913
Abstract
In late December of 2019, the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported in the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China, and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. Globally, as of 8 [...] Read more.
In late December of 2019, the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported in the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China, and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. Globally, as of 8 July 2020, there have been 11,669,259 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 539,906 deaths. In Saudi Arabia, the confirmed cases have already reached 223,327, with 161,096 patients confirmed to have recovered, and 2100 deaths. This study aims to determine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the training programs of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS) and assess trainees’ mental health status (i.e., anxiety and depression). Trainee evaluations on training programs were also sought in order to obtain insights for strategic planning necessary for curricular modifications or improvements to address the clinical learning needs of trainees during this pandemic. The main contribution of our work is an investigation of the incidence of depression and anxiety regarding COVID-19 within the community of residents and fellows. Furthermore, we elaborate on key responsive actions towards the enhancement of the mental health of trainees. Last but not least, we propose the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS) Model for Residents’ Mental Health Enhancement during the COVID-19 Pandemic, which consists of five integrative value layers for medical education and training, namely: the knowledge creation process and innovation; technological capabilities for personalized medicine and patient-centric healthcare with a social impact; innovative applications of technology-enhanced learning and web-based active learning approaches for medical training and education; residents’ wellbeing and the impact of COVID-19 in strategic layers. In our future work, we intend to enhance the proposed framework with studies on trainee satisfaction and the efficiency of different technology-enhanced learning platforms for medical education. Full article
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Article
A Progressive Model for Quality Benchmarks of Trainees’ Satisfaction in Medical Education: Towards Strategic Enhancement of Residency Training Programs at Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS)
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10186; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su122310186 - 06 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 876
Abstract
The latest developments in Sustainable Health focus on the provision of high quality medical training to health specialists, with a special focus on human factors. The need to promote effective Training Programs also reflects the job satisfaction needs of trainees. The objective of [...] Read more.
The latest developments in Sustainable Health focus on the provision of high quality medical training to health specialists, with a special focus on human factors. The need to promote effective Training Programs also reflects the job satisfaction needs of trainees. The objective of this study is to evaluate the trainees’ satisfaction with the quality of Training Programs and assess the degree of achievement based on the defined parameters to provide baseline data based on which strategies for improvement can be formulated. Our study was conducted in Saudi Arabia and our targeted population was residents in medical programs supervised by the Saudi Commission for the Health Specialties (SCFHS). The trainees’ response rate to the online survey was 27% (3696/13,688) and the key aspects of job satisfaction investigated include: Satisfaction with Academic Activities in the Center; Satisfaction with the Residents and Colleagues in the Center; Satisfaction with the Administrative Components in the Center; Satisfaction with the Training Programs; Satisfaction with the Specialty; Satisfaction with the Training Center; Satisfaction with the SCFHS. The main contribution of our work is a benchmark model for job satisfaction that can be used as a managerial tool for the enhancement of medical education with reference to the satisfaction of trainees. We analyze the key aspects and components of training satisfaction and we introduce our progressive model for Trainees’ Satisfaction in Medical Training. In future work, we intend to enhance the proposed framework with a set of key performance indicators as well as with a focused cause and effect focused survey on factors related to the key benchmark of this study. Full article
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Review

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Review
Conducting Population Health Research during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts and Recommendations
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3320; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13063320 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 906
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes, including restrictions on indoor gatherings and visitation to residential aged care facilities, hospitals and certain communities. Coupled with potential restrictions imposed by health services and academic institutions, these changes may significantly impact the conduct of [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes, including restrictions on indoor gatherings and visitation to residential aged care facilities, hospitals and certain communities. Coupled with potential restrictions imposed by health services and academic institutions, these changes may significantly impact the conduct of population health research. However, the continuance of population health research is beneficial for the provision of health services and sometimes imperative. This paper discusses the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the conduct of population health research. This discussion unveils important ethical considerations, as well as potential impacts on recruitment methods, face-to-face data collection, data quality and validity. In addition, this paper explores potential recruitment and data collection methods that could replace face-to-face methods. The discussion is accompanied by reflections on the challenges experienced by the authors in their own research at an oral health service during the COVID-19 pandemic and alternative methods that were utilised in place of face-to-face methods. This paper concludes that, although COVID-19 presents challenges to the conduct of population health research, there is a range of alternative methods to face-to-face recruitment and data collection. These alternative methods should be considered in light of project aims to ensure data quality is not compromised. Full article
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