Published:

Contact tracing for COVID-19: What can we learn from experiences of contact tracing in Ireland?

Contact tracers play an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and their insights can be useful in informing the development of future tracing strategies.

Image of figures on dice connected with lines

New research funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council will work with contact tracing staff in Ireland to understand how we can improve processes by learning from their experiences, and explore the emotional impact the work has on them. This information will be provided to the HSE as immediate evidence to inform and support contact tracing strategies in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
What is the issue?

Contact tracers are a potentially useful source of information that could help the HSE improve contact tracing strategies and processes. In addition, we need to ensure that these tracers are emotionally well supported.
 
What will the research project do?

Researchers at UCD will interview and survey contact tracers working in Ireland about their experiences and the emotional impact of the work. The project will relay insights to the HSE regularly during the course of the research. 
 
What will the impact be?

A key objective of this research is to offer regular updates to the HSE with data, analysis and data-driven recommendations to inform and support their work. 

Lead Researcher Dr Aoife De Brún, Assistant Professor at the UCD Centre for Research, Education and Innovation in Health Systems at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems in University College Dublin, says: 

“There is considerable potential to harness the experience of contact tracers in the pivotal role they play to identify needs and issues as they emerge in this rapidly changing situation. Learning from these experiences can help the health system to mobilise learning for rapid impact and improvement of processes and systems.”


 
Lead Researcher:

  • Dr Aoife De Brún, University College Dublin

Other team members:

  • Professor Eilish McAuliffe, Professor of Health Systems, UCD Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, Education and Innovation in Health Systems, University College Dublin
  • Dr Brynne Gilmore, Assistant Professor, UCD Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, Education and Innovation in Health Systems, University College Dublin 
  • Professor Patrick Wall, Professor of Public Health, School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin
  • Dr Philip Crowley, HSE National Co-Lead Public Health Response to COVID-19 and National Director, National Quality Improvement Team, Health Service Executive
  • Dr Greg Martin, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, Department of Public Health (East)
  • Dr Ricardo Segurado, Associate Professor in Public Health Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin
  • Dr Éidín Ní Shé, Senior Lecturer, School of Population Health, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Dr Gemma Moore, Qualitative Evaluation and Research, HSE National Quality Improvement Team, Health Service Executive
  • Dr Emma Nicholson, Research Fellow, UCD Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, Education and Innovation in Health Systems, University College Dublin 
  • Dr Mary Rose Sweeney, Associate Professor in Health Systems Research, School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, Dublin City University