At the one-year anniversary mark of the declaration of the pandemic, we surveyed a sample of our learners regarding their experiences over the past year, and the impact COVID-19 has had on them and their institutions. 7,688 CITI Program learners responded to the survey regarding their experiences during the period. Conducted from 11-21 March 2021, the anonymous survey recruited participants from a random sample of 70,100 persons (out of over 1.5 million learners) who completed a CITI Program course in the last 12 months and indicated a willingness to be contacted for such efforts. View the complete press release here, or on one of the following major media outlets:


Summary Survey Findings

 

  • 70,100 individuals selected at random were sent invitations to participate in the survey, of which 7,688 (11%) responded.
  • Individuals were asked to describe the organization they were affiliated with as either an employee or student, as well as their role at that organization. They were then asked to describe their organization’s approach to work, study, or research during the pandemic in 2020 and further, they were asked the same with respect to now (2021). The survey then asked respondents to rate their organization’s preparedness and handling of the pandemic over the last 12 months, what they might perceive as roadblocks to “normalcy” at the organization, and how confident they were the organization could return to normalcy by the end of 2021. Respondents were then asked to identify how they thought ways of working, studying, or conducting research might be affected post-pandemic. Lastly, respondents were asked to rate how they expected resources or support for different areas (biomedical research, STEM research, social/behavioral research, tele-medicine/tele-health, university/college tele-education, and K12 tele-education) might change compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Respondents reflected a number of diverse institutions as well as roles. From traditional institutions of higher education to academic medical centers, hospital or healthcare facility, as well as research organizations. Many individuals who identified as “other” for their organization reflected a diversity of organizational type, including K12, public health departments, drug and device sponsors, and government agencies.
  • Overarchingly, the survey indicated that respondents felt that their organizations did well in response to the pandemic and that they are confident that their organizations will be able to return to normalcy by the end of 2021.
  • Elements of the pandemic remain of concern to respondents. In particular, vaccines and viral variants remain of great concern to respondents. A majority of respondents noted that availability of vaccines was the greatest roadblock to normalcy and that improved vaccine availability would raise their confidence that their organization could return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Interesting Data Points

 

Roles of Respondents (Question 2)

  • The majority of respondents (30.2%) identified themselves as “researcher.” This was followed by faculty/instructor (27.4%), student/trainee (20.1%), nurse or nurse practitioner (10.5%), physician (7.5%), other health or healthcare practitioner (6.8%). The remainder of the respondents (19.2%) indicated “other” as their role. Many of these individuals were in higher education administrative positions, research administration, and institutional review board (IRB) related roles to name a few.

 

Organization’s approach to work/study/research in 2020 (Question 3)

  • The majority of respondents (46.7%) noted that their organization had switched to mainly virtual/telecommuting in 2020. Interestingly, the next largest group (23.2%) indicated that their organization had mostly (but not fully) maintained in-person activities at its facilities. This is contrasted by the next group (18.9%) who indicated their organization had switched to totally virtual/telecommuting. Of the remaining potential answers, those organizations that maintained full in-person activity was 4.7% whereas 6.4% noted “other.” It is interesting to note respondents who answered “Other” (6.4%) reflected a variety of answers, including not being sure the distribution at their organization, a change between in-person and “tele” activities as the pandemic progressed, and some who were already entirely virtual pre-pandemic.

 

What best describes the organization’s approach to work/study/research now (Question 4)

  • Compared to 2020, respondents noted that the degree of organizations that are still mainly virtual/telecommuting is lower (38.8%) than those that went virtual in 2020. In addition, the number of organizations that returned mostly (but not fully) to in-person activities is higher for the current state at 36.3%. Still totally virtual in 2021 is also lower in comparison to 2020 (10.1%). These number seem to indicate that as the pandemic has progressed institutions began to return to more traditional approaches to work, study, and research.

 

Rate the organization’s preparedness and handling of the pandemic over the last 12 months (Question 5)

  • A majority of respondents indicated a favorable response with respect to how their organization responded – good (21.4%), very good (38.6%), or excellent (28.3%). “Fair” was noted by 8.4% while 2.8% indicated “poor.” A percentage of respondents preferred not to answer.

 

Perceived Roadblocks to “normalcy” (Question 6)

  • Responses to what individuals felt were roadblocks to normalcy were varied; however, pressing issues took precedence (availability of vaccines at 53.2% and emergence of new coronavirus at 50.7%). Behavioral related items were of note—continued adherence to social distancing (43.6%), willingness of persons to be vaccinated (43.1%), and continued adherence to consistent mask usage (40.2%).

 

Return to Normalcy by 2021 (Question 7)

  • Interestingly, a majority (41.7%) of respondents noted that they were “somewhat confident” that their organization could return to normalcy by the end of 2021. Some respondents (31.7%) were very confident and 14.7% were extremely confident. A little over 10% of respondents were either not confident, not confident at all, or preferred not to say.

 

Raise confidence in the ability to return to pre-pandemic normalcy (Question 8)

  • A majority of respondents (65.1%) noted that improved vaccine availability would raise their confidence in the ability of their organization to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. This was followed by continued work/study from home to limit in-person attendance (44.8%). COVID-19 testing was not of as great a concern (24.0%) to respondents to raise their confidence when compared to improved contact tracing (32.6%), cleaning and other physical plant changes to reduce transmission (33.7%), and more consistent mask usage (30.8%). Improved signage with respect to physical distancing (22.0%) and a variety of “other” (11.6%) of elements were noted by respondents.

 

Post-pandemic ways of working, studying, or conducting research (Question 9)

  • Interestingly, a majority of respondents (55.3%) felt that while some new practices may remain, many work, study and research practices would return to pre-pandemic ways. Contrasting the 35.9% of individuals who felt that many practices adopted during the pandemic would become permanent. Less than 5% of individuals noted that most (if not all) practices would return to pre-pandemic ways. And similarly, less than 5% were uncertain.

 

The Future! (Question 10)

  • In the last question, respondents were asked what they believed would be the case in 2022 with respect to resources/support for a number of different areas and whether these (when compared to pre-pandemic levels) would increase, stay the same, or decrease. Interestingly, across all areas (biomedical research, STEM research, social/behavioral research, tele-medicine/tele-health, university/college tele-education, and K12 tele-education) respondents indicated that resources/support would increase. Respondents were most bullish (78.7%) on increase in support and resources for telehealth / telemedicine, followed by University/College tele-education (55.6%).

Detailed Survey Results

 

Q1. What best describes the organization where you primarily work or study?

Q1

Word cloud representation of responses to “Other” for Q1:

Q1

Q2. What best describes your current role(s) at that organization? (Please check all that apply.)

Q1

Word cloud representation of responses to “Other” for Q2:

Q1

Q3. What best describes the organization’s approach to work/study/research in 2020?

Q1

Q4. What best describes the organization’s approach to work/study/research now?

Q1

Q5. How would you rate your organization’s preparedness and handling of the pandemic over the last 12 months?

Q1

Q6. What do you perceive as continued roadblocks to a return to “normalcy” at your organization? (Please check all that apply.)

Q1

Word cloud representation of responses to “Other” for Q6:

Q1

Q7. How confident do you feel about your organization’s ability to return to normalcy by the end of 2021?

Q1

Q8. What items below would raise your confidence in the ability of your organization to return to pre-pandemic normalcy? (Please check all that apply.)

Q1

Word cloud representation of responses to “Other” for Q8:

Q1

From your perspective, do you think the ways of working, studying, or conducting research will change post-pandemic?

Q1

Q10. By 2022, do you expect resources/support for the following priorities to increase, stay the same, or decrease, compared to pre-pandemic levels?

Q1


Statistically Significant Differences in Responses by Institution Type

The following are some of the more interesting differences in response by type of institution (i.e., response to Q1). Letters in each cell indicate statistically significant percentage from rows labeled with same letters.

 

Q3. What best describes the organization’s approach to work/study/research in 2020?

Q1

Q4. What best describes the organization’s approach to work/study/research now?

Q1

Q5. How would you rate your organization’s preparedness and handling of the pandemic over the last 12 months?

Q1

Q6. What do you perceive as continued roadblocks to a return to “normalcy” at your organization? (Please check all that apply.)

Q1

Q7. How confident do you feel about your organization’s ability to return to normalcy by the end of 2021?

Q1

Q9. From your perspective, do you think the ways of working, studying, or conducting research will change post-pandemic?

Q1


Statistically Significant Differences in Responses by Learner Type

The following are some of the more interesting differences in response by type of learner (i.e., response to Q2). Letters in each cell indicate statistically significant percentage from rows labeled with same letters.

 

Q3. What best describes the organization’s approach to work/study/research in 2020?

Q1

Q4. What best describes the organization’s approach to work/study/research now?

Q1

Q5. How would you rate your organization’s preparedness and handling of the pandemic over the last 12 months?

Q1

Q7. How confident do you feel about your organization’s ability to return to normalcy by the end of 2021?

Q1

Q9. From your perspective, do you think the ways of working, studying, or conducting research will change post-pandemic?

Q1


About CITI Program

The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) is the trusted standard in research, ethics, and compliance training. CITI Program is dedicated to serving the training needs of colleges and universities, healthcare institutions, technology and research organizations, and governmental agencies, as they foster integrity and professional advancement of their learners. Our program has built a broad reach into the well-educated research community across the US and the world. We count over 10 million learners and reach over 90% of US higher education institutions that conduct research. In addition, our courses are used at all academic medical centers in the US, and many pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and healthcare technology companies.


Survey Methodology

  • Participation in the survey was voluntary.
  • There were 10 survey questions. All were optional.
  • Estimated time to complete the survey was 3 minutes or less.
  • The survey questions did not ask for any identifying information and we did not collect any other identifying attributes like IP address.
  • Survey results are presented in summary form. Any potentially identifying information provided in narrative responses have been removed before data presentation.
  • This survey activity has been reviewed by BRANY IRB and determined to be exempt. BRANY IRB and CITI Program are divisions of Biomedical Research Alliance of NY.

More information

For more information about the survey, contact CITI Program Support