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The lived experience of UK health communication professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic

Anne Gregory (The Business School, The University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Bill Nichols (Centre for Health Communication Research, Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, UK)
John M. Underwood (Centre for Health Communication Research, Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, UK)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 29 April 2021

Issue publication date: 11 May 2021

310

Abstract

Purpose

This research explores approaches to, impacts of and reflections on the Covid-19 pandemic for professional communicators in the English National Health Service. It was undertaken in order to understand and analyse their lived experience and make recommendations for improving future system-wide performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Given the work pressure and additional commitments that communication practitioners have when working in crisis, the researchers chose a single data collection method. Qualitative and quantitative data collection was undertaken using an extensive self-completion survey instrument.

Findings

Ten distinct themes covering four time phases: crisis preparedness, entering the crisis, pandemic peak and post “first-wave” are discussed. They examine crisis readiness, to shifts in priorities and communication approaches to system-wide leadership and integration and the re-positioning of communication as a central player in pandemics.

Practical implications

The research outlines a number of areas for improvement along with practical recommendations for actions in the health system in readiness for future pandemics.

Originality/value

This is the first time the lived experience of communicators working through a pandemic at all levels in a national health system has been researched in the public relations literature.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The researchers would like to acknowledge the advice and support of the following: the 12 person Advisory Group; NHS Providers and NHS Confederation; East of England Ambulance Service for the secondment of a member of staff and the NHS communicator community for their rapid and authoritative response to the call for participation.

Citation

Gregory, A., Nichols, B. and Underwood, J.M. (2021), "The lived experience of UK health communication professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 105-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-01-2021-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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