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Communication and information sharing at VA facilities during the 2009 novel H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Locatelli SM, LaVela SL, Hogan TP, Kerr AN, Weaver FM. Communication and information sharing at VA facilities during the 2009 novel H1N1 influenza pandemic. American journal of infection control. 2012 Sep 1; 40(7):622-6.

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BACKGROUND: Effective communication is critical to formulating responses to emergent events in health care settings. However, the range of factors that influenced communication in health care settings during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic has received limited attention. METHODS: Cross-sectional semistructured interviews were conducted by telephone with 33 infection control key informants at nationally dispersed Veterans Affairs health care facilities. Interviews were guided by an interview script that addressed topics on infection control practices, including information sources, methods of dissemination, barriers and facilitators to effective communication, and recommendations for future practices. RESULTS: Communication was facilitated when information was timely, organized, disseminated through multiple channels, and included educational materials. Barriers to effective communication included feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information received, encountering contradictory information, and restrictions on information dissemination because of uncertainty and inconsistent information. Participants offered recommendations for future pandemics, including the need for standardized educational content, clearer guidance from national organizations, and predefined communication plans for hospital staff. CONCLUSION: The findings of the present study provide insight about improving communication efforts within Veterans Affairs health care facilities during emergent events. The communication experiences discussed-and barriers and facilitators identified-can also be used in planning for future pandemics and other emergent situations.

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