Health Services/Population Health

39. We’re All Running on Empty: ICTS Membership Engagement and Productivity in the COVID Era

Introduction: COVID-19 swept through the United States beginning in March 2020, leading to transitions from in-person to online collaboration and teaching, overhauled lab safety protocols and schedules, and overwhelming clinical responsibilities for physicians. This study examines changes in ICTS members’ engagement with ICTS activities and productivity. Specific aims are to 1) document changes in activity and productivity with administrative data, and 2) examine reasons for and feelings about changes in productivity via survey data.

Methods: Administrative data on ICTS member engagement (core service use, training, internal funding, leadership) and productivity (grants, publications) were collected annually from 2007-2020 for all 3349 members. Impact of COVID-19 was collected as part of the annual ICTS Member Satisfaction Survey for 2020. These data include 223 early-career (fellows, residents, instructors, and assistant professors) members (113 men, 101 women, 9 no response) from the WUSTL School of Medicine.

Results: Engagement with ICTS showed a steep decline from 2019 to 2020, largely driven by a sharp drop in core service use. Declines were also seen in the number of Research Forum reviewers, Mock Study Section presenters, and CRTC mentees. Internal funding (JIT and Pilot) showed a greater number of recipients from 2019 to 2020. For productivity, the number of members with publications and grant awards declined from 2019 to 2020, though members with grant submissions showed a slight increase. Survey data confirmed that 66% of early-career members reported a decrease in research productivity since March 2020. Top reasons cited were childcare and homeschooling, pandemic-related feelings of distress, additional administrative tasks, and extra clinical work. Only 36% of responses indicated not taking on additional administrative tasks during COVID-19; 42% of men and 31% of women indicated no additional tasks. Almost 70% of respondents reported moderate/high anxiety about their productivity.

Impact: COVID-19 was detrimental to ICTS engagement and productivity. Anxiety regarding productivity was widespread. Short- and long-term translational deficits are likely as a result.

Organization – Washington University in St. Louis

Carothers BJ, Combs TB, Palombo E, Sarli CC, Suiter AM, Buckel C, Keath EJ, Vogel M, Luke DA