Following up on IHI’s Stories of COVID

A few groups that I’m working with have an interest in developing repositories of stories. The idea is that by collecting community-initiated improvement projects, we can tap into creative thinking and spread these more widely. A good, bottom-up approach.

This reminded me of my previous posts on IHI’s Stories of COVID. I visited the IHI site today to find that 10 additional stories have been uploaded since the new year. Let’s fire up the old code and see what has changed. Same methods as before. We used the bing lexicon to score words from the stories, then compute a net score by date.

These are some pretty wild fluctuations. There’s a series of stories published on January 28th at that are among the most negative published so far. And then just a few days later, we hit close to some all time highs. This is markedly different than my last post which seemed to suggest an emergent malaise.

In my work with ECHO, I’ve heard the term “COVID fatigue” more than once. Generally, it refers to the continually dread and stress that people have when dealing with COVID protocols and disruptions. Let’s be clear, this has been a drrrraaaaaaggggg.

Research on this specific topic hasn’t really filtered up, but the science on the impact of persistent stress may prove informative. I ran PubTrawlr to see if COVID fatigue would be distinguished from symptoms of COVID (one of which is fatigue!). And it did, but the topic was also subsumed under other ones. That whole blue cluster at right contains articles on this topic.

To follow up a bit more, I ran a search on “compassion fatigue,” which seemed to be the preferred term. This searched returned ~1070 articles on topics like vicarious trauma. A lot of this work comes out of the oncology field, which I can’t even imagine.

Going back to the specific IHI stories, I also ran a topic model to see how the stories clustered. While the optimization occurred around fourteen topics, I wasn’t very happy with the result. A k of 10 worked a little better, but it’s not great. In the interest of transparency, here it is.

Generally, these seem to fall into bigger categories of treatment, family, and social supports. Not much about COVID fatigue here, unless we consider that the overall sentiment for the stories has remained net negative.