Clinicians’ Core Needs in a Pandemic: Qualitative Findings From the Chat Box in a Statewide COVID-19 ECHO Program

Anna L. Steeves-Reece, Nancy C. Elder, Katherine D. Broadwell, Ronald D. Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Research on primary care’s role in a pandemic response has not adequately considered the day-to-day needs of clinicians in the midst of a crisis. We created an Oregon COVID-19 ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) program, a telementoring education model for clinicians. The program was adapted for a large audience and encouraged interactivity among the hundreds of participants via the chat box. We assessed how chat box communications within the statewide program identified and ameliorated some of clinicians’ needs during the pandemic. METHODS We conducted a qualitative analysis of chat box transcripts from 11 sessions. We coded transcripts using the editing method, whereby analysts generate categories predominantly from the data, but also from prior knowledge. We then explored the context of clinicians’ needs in a pandemic, as conceptualized in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs adapted for physicians: physiologic, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. RESULTS The mean number of chat box participants was 492 per session (range, 385 to 763). Participants asked 1,462 questions and made 819 comments throughout the program. We identified 3 key themes: seeking answers and trustworthy information, seeking practical resources, and seeking and providing affirmation and peer support. These themes mapped onto the Maslow’s needs framework. We found that participants were able to create a virtual community in the chat box that supported many of their needs. CONCLUSIONS Using a novel data source, we found sharing the experience of practicing in a rapidly changing environment via comments and questions in an ECHO program both defined and supported participants’ needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of family medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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