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Relational Gestalt approach to building a COVID-19 community of practice in a hospital setting
  1. Justin T Denholm1,2,
  2. Douglas Johnson1,2,
  3. Gina C Denholm3,
  4. Eva Deligiannis3
  1. 1 Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Department of Infectious Diseases, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Gestalt Therapy Australia, Carlton North, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Justin T Denholm, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; justin.denholm{at}


Background The COVID-19 pandemic has been highly disruptive in many work environments, particularly those related to direct provision of healthcare. Significant organisational change has been required at many levels, with attendant risks of both impaired service delivery and psychological impact on staff. Relational organisational Gestalt (ROG) is an approach that emphasises interpersonal connection about shared reality, which can be used in a variety of ways to support organisational change.

Methods We established a community of practice in an acute hospital setting using ROG approaches during a COVID-19 pandemic wave. This group primarily consisted of senior medical staff redeployed to COVID-19 ward duties, who met daily for facilitated sessions centred around inpatient activities.

Results Emerging group practices and outputs are described, including adjustments to group processes in response to situational need. A ROG approach was perceived as both effective in supporting rapid change in practice, and for providing psychological support for staff members.

Conclusions ROG can be a useful and adaptive model for supporting staff and systems through times of change. Further exploration and evaluation of this approach in a variety of healthcare environments and applications will be valuable.

  • COVID-19
  • clinical leadership
  • health system
  • management
  • support

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in this intervention, and in development and preparation of this manuscript. Initial manuscript drafts were prepared by JD, with all authors approving final manuscript prior to submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.