Timing and volume of information produced for the Otolaryngologist during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK: A review of the volume of online literature.
Cernei C., Shrivastava MK., Colquhoun-Flannery W., Winter SC.
BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and has been declared a pandemic in March 2020. COVID-19 has caused unprecedented and lasting biopsychosocial effects worldwide. All healthcare professionals have faced life-threatening risks by attending their daily jobs. The daily emergence of advice and guidelines was necessary to ensure the safety of patients and staff. To this effect, all elective services came to a halt to preserve hospitals' capacity for dealing with the sickest. This retrospective, descriptive review aims to assess the volume and timing of the advice released specifically relevant to UK ENT specialists. METHODS: Two separate searches were performed. One involved online advice published in English by international, national and ENT-specific organisations between January 1 and May 31. The date, title, source, type of advice and link to the advice were recorded in Excel. The resources were analysed per week of publication. A second separate search for peer-reviewed publications was conducted using PubMed Central and Cochrane databases. FINDINGS: COVID-19-related guidance was considered, of which 175 were identified. 52/175 (29.7%) articles were published by international organisations. 56/175 (32%) were produced by national organisations, and 67/175 (38.28%) were produced by ENT specific organisations. The peak guidance production took place in the third and fourth week of March (16/03/2020-29/03/2020) with 72/175 publications. Of these, 27/70 came from the international category, 17/70 from national bodies and 26/70 from ENT-specific organisations. 13 863 total publications relating to COVID-19 were found using PubMed and Cochrane search strategies; 76% were relevant to ENT. CONCLUSION: The challenges faced by ENT relate to the unprecedented, sudden and daily changes to clinical practice. Multiple bodies interpreted the guidance, giving an opportunity for confusion and delay in treatments for patients. Implementing a system with clear lines of communication and dissemination of information will improve our response to future pandemic events whilst maintaining a commercial awareness to better use the human and financial resources of an already financially restricted NHS.