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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the research activities of UK ophthalmologists

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jeffry Hogg, Dr Roly Megaw



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s).Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on many areas of biomedical research and there is concern that academic recovery will take several years. This survey aimed to define the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UK ophthalmologists’ research activities and understand the implications for recovery. Methods: An online survey comprising multiple choice and free-text questions was designed, piloted and then distributed to Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) members in January 2021. Respondent characteristics, research expectations and experiences through the pandemic were captured. Descriptive and comparative statistics were applied to quantitative data alongside content analysis of qualitative data. Results: In total, 148 respondents (3.7% of RCOphth membership) comprised 46 trainees (31.1%), 97 consultants (65.5%) and 5 SAS doctors (3.4%); 54 had clinical-academic roles (36.5%) and 65/94 (69.1%) ophthalmologists with fully clinical posts identified as research-active. Of 114 research-active respondents, 104 (91.2%) reported an impact on their research from COVID-19; negative impacts included loss of research time (n = 69), research delays (n = 96) and funding shortfalls (n = 63). Content analysis identified five common themes; type of research activity, clinical demands, institutional challenges, COVID-19 alignment and work-life balance. Conclusions: UK ophthalmology research has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. A substantial proportion of UK ophthalmologists are research active, but 20.4% of those surveyed felt that the pandemic had made research less attractive. Strategic steps must be taken to nurture UK ophthalmologists’ engagement with research, especially for those who currently do no research, if the profession is to align itself with the Government vision of ‘Research for All’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hogg HDJ, Low L, Self JE, Allen L, Atan D, Bourne RRA, Dick AD, Foster PJ, Gale RP, Hammond CJ, Megaw R, Moosajee M, Sivaprasad S, Rahi JS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Eye

Year: 2022

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 31/10/2022

Acceptance date: 11/10/2022

Date deposited: 21/11/2022

ISSN (print): 0950-222X

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5454

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1038/s41433-022-02293-y

PubMed id: 36316557


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