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Research to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Emergency Responders

Female firefighter

A project which is assessing the impact of COVID-19 on Emergency Responders (ER) has been funded by the OU Rapid Response to COVID-19 scheme.

Dr Gini Harrison, Senior Lecturer in Psychology the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has been awarded just over £9,000 to assess the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of ERs.

This research builds on her previous research project, Assessing the mental health and wellbeing of the Emergency Responder Community, conducted in partnership with Kings College London, which identified the exposure to trauma associated with this role and the difficulty accessing help and support, which has a negative effect on the mental health of ERs.

This provided an incentive for Dr Harrison to identify the additional occupational pressures caused against the current background of COVID-19.

She said: “There are no studies collecting comparable wellbeing information for the ERs across the services, and none investigating the wide-spread impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and wellbeing across all of the different ER groups.”

Her study will carry out the initial groundwork to identify the impact of COVID-19 on ERs, using both focus groups and survey methods.

Initial findings are expected by the end of March 2021 and will be used towards a larger external grant application which will facilitate research to longitudinally track the wellbeing of a specific ER cohort.

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