US healthcare workers not ready for flu pandemic

Israeli aided-study shows 40% wouldn't report to work.

bird flu pigeons 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
bird flu pigeons 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Almost half of health workers in Maryland who were polled by Israeli and American epidemiologists admit that they would not go to work during an influenza pandemic. The survey results, published in the open-access journal BMC Public Health, revealed that 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. Other factors influencing their decision are their perceived ability to communicate the risks clearly and knowledge of the possible impact of a pandemic. The results highlight the need for increased training and coaching for all health workers, but most importantly non-clinical healthcare staff, emphasizing the importance of their role and their presence at work during an influenza pandemic. Dr. Ran Balicer, of the Ben-Gurion University's epidemiology department, and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness in Baltimore sent questionnaires to all staffers in three health centers in Maryland. In total, 308 staff responded. The results show that more than 40 percent of respondents would not go to work during an influenza pandemic and that 66% felt they would put themselves at risk if they came to work. 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, mostly clinicians, 86.8% would be willing to come to work. Most (83%) felt that they would benefit from additional training to prepare them for a pandemic.