An unheard voice: infection prevention professionals reflect on their experiences during the covid-19 pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic required a shift away from the evidence-based practices known to infection prevention professionals’ (IPP). Relaying these guidelines to beleaguered front line staff contributed to the experience of moral distress and burnout among IPPs.


A mixed methods design was used to explore the experiences of IPPs during the COVID-19 pandemic. An electronic survey was sent to a convenience sample from the Wisconsin APIC membership. A subset of this sample completed additional semi-structured interviews.


A total of 61 IPPs responded to the survey, 18 agreed to interviews with 11 completions. Most respondents identified as female (n=58, 95.0%) and White (n=55, 90.1%). More than half of the respondents (n=39, 63.9 %) reported they experienced moral distress (MD). Themes from one-on-one interviews included: Feeling depleted, challenges to IPP role, validation of IPP expertise, value of peer support.


We found that IPPs endured significant distress and exhaustion during the COVID-19 pandemic regardless of their practice setting. The long-term effects on the IPP profession must be examined. IPPs are susceptible to high levels of stress and anxiety similar to other frontline healthcare workers. IPPs deserve recognition for their service during the pandemic and should have access to resources that can support their well-being.