When disaster strikes, taking care of the victims is the top priority. But who will provide that care" In a study presented at the 2007 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Annual Meeting, Temple University researchers uncovered psychological barriers that might keep doctors, nurses and support staff from reporting to work in a disaster.
"Workers want to know that the role they play will be meaningful. And, if they put themselves out there for the benefit of others, that their institution will, in turn, be taking care of them and their families," said lead author Linda Kruus, Ph.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at Temples School of Medicine.
Hospital staffing is key in disaster planning, especially within the emergency department. Yet, mandatory assignment does not guarantee attendance. This study tested the hypothesis that healthcare workers (HCWs) perceptions and expectations about their role in disaster response influence their willingness and ability to work during disasters.
Other related factors include:
The researchers surveyed 306 healthcare workers from five urban hospitals on three hypothetical scenarios: a public riot, an infectious disease outbreak and a regional power outage. The workers included doctors and nurses (47%), support staff (29%) and administration (23%), 68 percent of whom had undergone a minimum of awareness level disaster training.