International survey of COVID-19 management strategies

Riccardo Tartaglia, Micaela La Regina, Michela Tanzini, Chiara Pomare, Rachel Urwin, Louise Ellis, Vittorio Fineschi, Francesco Venneri, Chiara Seghieri, Peter Lachman, Johanna Westbrook, Jeffrey Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While individual countries have gained considerable knowledge and experience in coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) management, an international, comparative perspective is lacking, particularly regarding the measures taken by different countries to tackle the pandemic. This paper elicits the views of health system staff, tapping into their personal expertise on how the pandemic was initially handled.

Methods: From May to July 2020, we conducted a cross-sectional, online, purpose-designed survey comprising 70 items. Email lists of contacts provided by the International Society for Quality in Health Care, the Italian Network for Safety in Health Care and the Australian Institute of Health Innovation were used to access healthcare professionals and managers across the world. We snowballed the survey to individuals and groups connected to these organizations. Key outcome measures were attitudes and information about institutional approaches taken; media communication; how acute hospitals were re-organized; primary health organization; personal protective equipment; and staffing and training.

Results: A total of 1131 survey participants from 97 countries across the World Health Organization (WHO) regions responded to the survey. Responses were from all six WHO regions; 57.9% were female and the majority had 10 or more years of experience in healthcare; almost half (46.5%) were physicians; and all other major clinical professional groups participated. As the pandemic progressed, most countries established an emergency task force, developed communication channels to citizens, organized health services to cope and put in place appropriate measures (e.g. pathways for COVID-19 patients, and testing, screening and tracing procedures). Some countries did this better than others. We found several significant differences between the WHO regions in how they are tackling the pandemic. For instance, while overall most respondents (71.4%) believed that there was an effective plan prior to the outbreak, this was only the case for 31.9% of respondents from the Pan American Health Organization compared with 90.7% of respondents from the South-East Asia Region (SEARO). Issues with swab testing (e.g. delay in communicating the swab outcome) were less frequently reported by respondents from SEARO and the Western Pacific Region compared with other regions.

Conclusion: The world has progressed in its knowledge and sophistication in tackling the pandemic after early and often substantial obstacles were encountered. Most WHO regions have or are in the process of responding well, although some countries have not yet instituted widespread measures known to support mitigation, for example, effective swab testing and social control measures.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbermzaa139
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number1
Early online date20 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Covid-19
  • pandemic management
  • International survey
  • health systems
  • WHO regions
  • management control
  • COVID-19
  • international survey


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