Healthcare staff not prepared for flu pandemic

Nearly half of health workers surveyed would not go to work during an influenza pandemic. The results of a survey of health workers in Maryland, USA, published today in the open access journal BMC Public Health reveal that the staff's perceived importance of their role in the response to a pandemic is the most important factor influencing willingness to come to work during a pandemic. This is lowest among technical or support staff. These results highlight the need for increased training and support for all health workers, but most importantly non-clinical healthcare staff, emphasising the importance of their role and their presence at work during an influenza pandemic.

Ran Balicer from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva, Israel and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness, Baltimore, USA sent questionnaires to all the staff in three health centres in Maryland. In total, 308 staff responded.

Balicer et al.'s results show that over 40% of respondents stated they would be unlikely to go to work during an influenza pandemic and that 66 % of respondents felt that they would put themselves at risk if they came to work during a pandemic. Willingness to report to work was most significantly associated with the perceived importance of one's role in the response. Less than a third of respondents felt that they would have an important role in the response to an influenza pandemic, but among this group, made mostly of clinicians, 86.8% would be willing to come to work.

Most (83%) of the respondents felt that they would benefit from additional training to prepare them to the eventuality of a pandemic.

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Local public health workers' perceptions toward responding to an influenza pandemic
Ran D Balicer, Saad B Omer, Daniel J Barnett and George S Everly Jr.
BMC Public Health (in press)
http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/


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