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Will the healthcare workers go to work during disasters?

When disaster strikes, getting care to the victims is at the top of everyones attention. But who will provide that care" In two studies to be presented at the 2007 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) Annual Meeting, researchers examined the factors that might affect whether healthcare workers and support staff would report to work during a disaster.

Linda Kruus, PhD, of Temple University Medical Schools Department of Emergency Medicine, in collaboration with the Temple University Center for Preparedness Research, Education and Practice and the Temple University Health System Emergency Response & Preparedness Institute, surveyed healthcare workers from five urban hospitals who had viewed videos and written presentations of three hypothetical scenarios: A public riot, an infectious disease outbreak and a regional power outage. Workers were more willing to work when they felt that their role in a disaster was important, and that they could be effective in that role. They were also more likely to work when they felt safe traveling to work and in the workplace, believed contracting an illness would be unlikely, were less worried about exposing family members to an illness, and felt supported by their family in their decision to work. Since support staff and administrators provide essential services during disasters, freeing doctors and nurses for medical needs, this survey was important in uncovering the factors that might keep many types of key healthcare workers at home. According to Kruus, "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."

Charlene Irvin, MD, of the St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Wayne State University School of Medicine, surveyed almost 200 nurses, doctors and other hospital workers regarding a hypothetical outbreak of avian flu. Only 50% of the worke
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Contact: Linda Gruner
l.gruner@elsevier.com
212-633-3923
Elsevier Health Sciences
16-May-2007


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