Zeber Co-edits Special COVID-19 Issue of ‘Family Practice’

Associate professor of health promotion and policy John Zeber is the co-editor of a special September supplemental issue of the journal “Family Practice” devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zeber and fellow co-editor Niharika Khanna of the University of Maryland School of Medicine also provide the issue’s opening editorial in which they outline the reasons the journal is devoting an issue to primary care responses to the pandemic.

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John Zeber

“Over a year into the pandemic, an informal review of PubMed, Google Scholars and other databases revealed several thousand published articles exploring the SARS virus and general COVID-related issues,” they write. “Yet we observed that the vast majority of papers focused on biological mechanisms, epidemiological factors regarding disease spread, clinical presentation and pharmaceutical or other experimental treatment options. A relatively small portion of the current research and evidence targets health services implications or applied public health approaches, with even fewer devoted to the role of primary care and family medicine providers. So while our scientific knowledge about the virus and subsequent clinical ramifications have developed exponentially, information regarding primary care response to COVID-19 in diverse settings, and the interaction with patient perspectives and priorities, and broader public health responsibilities remain considerably more opaque.”

Their call for papers resulted in over fifty manuscripts submitted for peer review covering a range of topics from psychological problems stemming from the disease or subsequent isolation, telemedicine along with other novel health delivery options, care coordination and communication barriers, to potential improvements in effective detection and treatment. The editorial team selected seven manuscripts – six research papers and a case study – for inclusion.

Zeber and Khanna note that the issue’s “international studies highlight the diversity of current efforts into the pandemic impact while reflecting upon the complexities of addressing this infectious disease scenario. Such work establishes an impressive foundation for future work into longer-term effects of COVID, innovative epidemiological techniques to monitor outbreaks, and collaborative clinical treatment approaches.”

With the full impact of the pandemic likely to be felt for years to come, they advocate the need to “continually benchmark primary care responses, specifically regarding patient outcomes.”