Let’s Read an Article a Month – March 2023

The cropped screenshot of the first page of the article. It also includes the URL or link to the article.

Every month I try to read an open-access article. Then, I share the title and associated link with my followers. This is to encourage clinicians to read articles, stay up-to-date, and continue to grow.

The objective of this month’s paper is to “characterize the mental health and functioning of Canadian RTs and compare profiles between RTs working on and off designated COVID-19 units” (p3).

Characterizing the mental health and functioning of Canadian respiratory therapists during the COVID-19 pandemic

By D’Alessandro-Lowe AM, Ritchie K, Brown A, Xue Y, Pichtikova M, Altman M, Beech I, Millman H, Levy Y, Asma S, Hassall K, Foster F, Rodrigues S, Hosseiny F, O’Connor C, Heber A, Malain A, Schielke H, Lanius RA, McCabe RE, and McKinnon MC.. 

Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2023;14(1):2171751. doi: 10.1080/20008066.2023.2171751. PMID: 36880459; PMCID: PMC9990694.

Link to the article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9990694/pdf/ZEPT_14_2171751.pdf

“The results of the present study suggest the need for adequate mental health supports for Canadian RTs. “

page 8

“ Almost one in five (18%) of the participants scored above the cut-offs for depression, anxiety, stress and PTSD, collectively.”

page 7

“ Depression, anxiety and stress, PTSD and functional impairment scores did not significantly differ between those on and off COVID-19 units (p’s > .05) .“

page 7

“RTs are excluded from presumptive legislation surrounding PTSD in some Canadian provinces.”

page 8

Happy reading and learning,

Farzad Refahi

March 18th, 2023


Anxious Coming To The Hospital

Image of the pulmonary function testing lab with circular red boarders.

“I am surprised you are doing breathing tests!”

“Is it safe to do this test?”

“It must be very difficult for you to work at this time!”

“Is this clean?”

“Do you reprocess those?”

Roughly once a week, I have a patient who has shown up for their pulmonary function testing (PFT) despite their anxiety about being inside a hospital. They tend to register early in the hospital however won’t come to the waiting area until a minute or two before the required time. They also prefer to stand as they don’t want to sit in a ‘hospital’ chair.
When I guide them to the PFT lab, they seem anxious and need to ask a few questions before they are comfortable enough to do the test.

I know that I wouldn’t be able to start the test until they have the answers and they feel okay to start. Also, it is more difficult to establish rapport with someone who is tense. Performance, accuracy and reproducibility of values are also greatly influenced by an anxious mindset. What I have tried to do is listen and answer as many of their questions as possible. I spend a few minutes talking about the transition of our hospital’s PFT lab, which includes how our hospital shut down the lab until the local rates were low. I also explain that the hospital actively books fewer tests per day so waiting areas don’t get busy and that there would be more time between the tests for cleaning. Inside the body box and all the surfaces that people have touched or been near have been wiped with appropriate solutions. Mouthpieces are not reprocessed and are tossed out after each use.

I understand that we all get busy with our schedules and there is always lots to do. But we need to put in the time and effort to slow down and to actively listen. It is important to not take things personally. The patient is not questioning your care and ability to clean. They are worried about their health and need honest answers and reassurance. Although we spend a lot of time cleaning, the patient doesn’t see that.

I really hope that ordering physicians and clinicians take the time to explain the test, the reasoning, the cleaning process that hospitals and labs perform, and to answer any questions the patients may have. If the ordering clinician is unsure or unfamiliar, I strongly recommend that they contact the PFT labs for more information. I would be more than happy to have clinicians visit the lab so they better understand the process.

What are your thoughts? What steps do you take to make your patients feel more at ease?

Farzad Refahi
Sept. 14, 2020