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Approaches to conveying and updating essential information within one’s place of work or emergency assignment and documenting actions and decisions made.

Communication during pandemics and disasters is key to 1) ensuring a coordinated response across health systems, public health organizations, and governmental agencies, and 2) keeping the public informed about ongoing preparedness and response efforts.

The second domain of the International Council of Nurses’ (ICN) Core Competencies in Disaster Nursing is communication. In this context, communication refers to efforts to pass essential information to different audiences within a disaster or pandemic situation. These activities change based on the healthcare setting and the type of disaster. The following resources focus on nurse and healthcare provider communication strategies during emergencies, with several focused on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Academic Articles and Books

Protect the nurse, protect the practice: effective communication is the foundation for keeping nurses safe – Healthcare Management Forum (2021) [paywall]

  • Discusses the importance of communication as a tool to keep nurses safe during disaster events. The paper reflects on the challenges felt during the COVID-19 pandemic, applying lessons to other health emergencies.

Disaster management: communication up, across, and down – Nursing Management (2017) [paywall]

  • Describes a series of communication lessons learned during a simulated disaster in an American hospital system, including methods for effective communication between nurses and management, nurses and their colleagues, and nurses and their patients.

Effective communication is key to intensive care nurses’ willingness to provide nursing care amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – Intensive and Critical Care Nursing (2021)

  • Describes the results of a survey of intensive care unit (ICU) nurses working in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings suggest that effective communication from hospital leadership was a key component in maintaining a safe and well-operating work environment during the pandemic.

Examining effective communication in nursing practice during COVID-19: a large-scale qualitative study – International Nursing Review (2021)

  • Results from this qualitative study, which included 100 interviews with nurse practitioners responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, highlight the positive impact of effective crisis communication practices and policies.
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Guidance and Training Documents

How do deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind communicate at the hospital during COVID-19? – Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (DHH-RERC)

  • Provides resources for communicating with deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, relays how traditional communication materials may create challenges for certain populations, and lists strategies to help minimize communication challenges.

Emergency response communication tools – Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Nursing

  • Resources include video demonstrations on how to improve communication between caregivers and emergency medical services (EMS) professionals as well as a complete set of role-playing activities to practice effective emergency communication.

Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2018)

  • Provides a guide that is a fundamental resource in disaster communication and offers additional resources to apply and grow the discussed skills. Core components outline several key tenants of crisis and emergency risk communication.

COVID Ready Communication Playbook – VitalTalk

  • Provides examples of how to have effective, empathetic conversations around COVID-19 care, including communication samples on triaging, preferencing, and counseling. Though focused on COVID-19, these samples have extensions to communication within other disaster contexts. Available in more than 20 languages.

Emergency communications toolkit – Washington State Department of Health

  • Resources for the public health workforce to prepare for future health emergencies. Contains examples of news releases, communication tools for specific emergencies, and risk communication training guides, among other resources.
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Webinars, Podcasts, and Other New Media

The impact of COVID-19 on nurse communication with patients and families – Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation (2020)

  • Details some of the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic had on nurse-patient communication and provides several methods to maintain healthy communication, including strategies focused on wellness.

Communication tips for nurses supporting seriously ill patients, families & communities during the coronavirus pandemic – Sigma Repository (2020)

  • Details several strategies nurses can employ to support seriously ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and in other disaster scenarios.
International Resource Center for Pandemic and Disaster Nursing
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