Equipping families with reliable COVID-19 resources
Meet Dr. Shannon Scott and Dr. Lisa Hartling, two Stollery Science Lab Distinguished Researchers, who are providing parents and families with evidence-based health information to help them make decisions about their child’s health — and most recently, about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Translating Evidence in Child Health to Enhance Outcomes (ECHO), led by Dr. Shannon Scott, and the Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence (ARCHE), led by Dr. Lisa Hartling, are two complementary research programs at the University of Alberta that collaborate to improve health outcomes of children. They hold Canada Research Chairs for KT in Child Health, and Knowledge Synthesis and Translation, respectively. Scott and Hartling have been collaborating for more than 15 years and have developed more than 40 Knowledge Translation tools for parents – several of which have won national awards. These tools help parents make informed healthcare decisions when their child is sick.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the physical and mental health of both parents and children. Misinformation and disinformation can make it hard for parents to find facts online about COVID-19 and related public health and safety measures. Access to the best available research evidence is critical for improving health outcomes and adherence to public health recommendations. With this in mind, ECHO and ARCHE started to interview parents with a child who had COVID-19 in spring of 2020 to understand their information needs and experiences. They knew as soon as the pandemic started that parents would need knowledge resources to help them navigate the complexities of the pandemic. To address this gap, they had a vision to build on their experiences of developing national award-winning knowledge tools that merge research with the power of families’ experiences. ECHO and ARCHE have now created videos and online infographics to help families overcome some of the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research team had conversations with parents to understand their information needs and questions they had related to COVID-19 and the pandemic. They then co-created with parents six resources to help families with three things:
- Navigate their child’s social world throughout COVID-19 and beyond
- Understand COVID-19 vaccines for children
- Understand how to care for a child with COVID-19
All resources provide links to reliable and evidence-based information, which were developed in partnership with the pediatric parent advisory group (P-PAG). Funding for these resources were provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by the Stollery Science Lab Distinguished Researchers program through the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI). All of these resources are available online for free at echokt.ca/covid.
ECHO and ARCHE aim to make research evidence in child health understandable and accessible to those who need it most. The goal of ECHO and ARCHE is to improve how the best available synthesized research-based knowledge about child health is developed and shared with parents and families, to aid them in caring for their sick children at home and understanding when healthcare services should appropriately be sought. These research programs are leaders in a healthcare movement that wants more patient-centred and family-centred care, where patients and their families actively engage in health care decision-making alongside the clinical team.