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27-07-2010 | Respiratory | Article

A quarter of hospital workers unwilling to respond during flu pandemic

Abstract

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MedWire News: More than one in four hospital workers would not respond to an influenza pandemic emergency if asked but not required to do so, survey results suggest.

The findings, published in the journal BMC Public Health, suggest that strategies are needed to encourage greater pandemic emergency response willingness among hospital employees, says the team.

Ran Balicer (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel) and colleagues invited all 18,612 employees from the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, to participate in an anonymous online disaster preparedness and emergency response survey between January and March 2009.

The survey included questions on demographics, and attitudes and beliefs toward emergency response during an influenza pandemic.

In total, 3426 (18.4%) employees completed the survey, of whom 72.7% were female and 34.0% were clinical staff.

Analysis revealed that 28.0% of workers would not respond to an influenza pandemic emergency if asked but not required to do so, while 17.5% would not respond if required to do so.

Furthermore, 32.0% of employees said that they would be unwilling to respond in the event of a very severe pandemic.

There were no significant differences in response willingness between clinical and non-clinical staff.

Higher perceived self-efficacy and older age were associated with an increased willingness to respond. Factors associated with a reduced willingness to respond included a lack of knowledge about pandemic events, lack of protective equipment (masks etc), and increased levels of concern about dependents at home.

"Willingness to respond is a critical component of effective hospital readiness and sustainability in emergencies [and] our findings point to the gaps in willingness to respond within the hospital infrastructure," conclude Balicer and team.

They add that "several strategies - including promoting pre-event plans for dependents at home and ensuring the supply of personal protective equipment, vaccines, and antiviral drugs for all hospital employees - may allow hospital leaders to design, implement, and evaluate risk communication messaging and training programs focused on emergency response willingness in their institutions."

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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