General Practice Trainees perceptions and experiences of dying and death in the community during COVID-19- Preliminary findings
Background: General Practitioner Trainees in the community have had many dying and death experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The GP trainees have had many unique and challenging perceptions during this time including high volumes of patient deaths, overwhelming workload, depletion of personal protective equipment and widespread media coverage.
The approach: This study aims to explore General Practitioner trainees perceptions and experiences of death and dying in the community during COVID 19. An Interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach has been used to explore how the GP trainees made sense of major life experiences such as dying and death during COVID-19 pandemic. Dying and death perceptions and experiences are highly individual and can be of personal significance, therefore an IPA research approach was used for sampling, data collection and data analysis.
Findings: As dying and death is an inevitable reality with most of the worldwide population understanding its significance, it is important to recognise GP trainees role in supporting dying patients and their deaths in the community. The individual GP trainees’ perceptions and experiences can offer very important insights helping to further understand individuals own reality and meaning, there may be some unique as well as shared experiences and perceptions of dying and death in the community. The preliminary results have found themes that are a directly and indirectly related to COVID-19 and the dying and death in the community. There were pressures which lead to uncertainty with decision making and the volume of dying and death resulted in GP trainees feeling guilty and frustrated. There were perceived differences between primary and secondary care and many benefits and risks to weigh up amongst other key elements.
Implications: For most doctors the initial COVID-19 pandemic was very unique and extraordinary time that may never be experienced again. The GP trainees experiences of dying and death in the community during this time had lots of reassuring similarities to pre-COVID-19, however the challenges were unexpected and taxing, taking a physical and emotional toll on the participants.