Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Healthcare workers in NY may be unable or unwilling to report to work during certain catastrophes

12.09.2005


In a first study of its kind, researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health assessed the ability and willingness of healthcare workers to report to work in the event of disasters involving weapons of mass destruction or virulent infectious disease outbreaks. Eighty-seven percent of healthcare workers from 47 facilities in and around New York City, indicate that they would be able to report for work in the event of a mass casualty incident and 81% would be able to go to work if there was an environmental disaster. However, only 69% of the workers said that they would be able to reporting for work during a smallpox epidemic.



When it comes to willingness to report for work, only 48% of healthcare workers stated that they would be willing to come to work during a SARS outbreak; 57% during a radiological event; or 61% in the event of a smallpox epidemic. The researchers found that a very large proportion of healthcare workers intended to report to duty if the disaster involved mass causalities (86%) or some type of environmental disaster (84%). In addition, while 80% of workers said they would be willing to come to work during severe weather, such as a major snowstorm, a much lower proportion (less than 50%) felt that they would be able to do so.

Over 6,000 healthcare workers in the greater New York metropolitan area participated in the anonymous survey.


Information on healthcare workers’ ability and willingness to respond is invaluable not only to healthcare administrators, but to emergency planners and government agencies, as well. "Ability" refers to being physically being able to report to duty. In New York City, this is especially important since workers rely on public transportation to get to work, and any major disruption in mass transit might prevent large numbers of workers from commuting to work. "Willingness" on the other hand, refers more to the personal decision to report to work and this may be influenced by safety concerns or fear of contagion.

The barriers respondents most often cited as affecting their ability to report to work included transportation problems, child or elder care, or pet obligations. With respect to willingness, healthcare workers’ fear for their own safety and that of their family members influenced them the most.

These data suggest that healthcare workers’ responsiveness may vary depending on the type of situation involved. According to Kristine Qureshi, RN, DNSc, a researcher in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and lead author, "Although we might assume that healthcare employees have an obligation to respond to these high impact events, our findings indicate that personal obligations, as well as concerns for their own safety play a pivotal role in workers’ willingness to report to work."

Similarly, Robyn Gershon, DrPH, associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences, senior investigator at the Mailman School’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, and co-author of the study points out that "Employers must recognize that their healthcare workers are likely to be as concerned or even more concerned about their safety than the average citizen, because they have a greater understanding of the risks involved." Furthermore, she cautions that their concerns for their family members must also be considered.

These findings are of practical importance, since a catastrophic event would result in the need for a fully-activated healthcare workforce. A less than full contingency of healthcare workers on the job could have far-reaching implications, according to the researchers. In addition to the number of sick already being treated, facilities could find themselves inundated with large numbers of victims of a mass casualty incident or other disaster. If adequate numbers of staff members do not report to work, it could result in a situation where hospitals are unable to meet surge capacity needs.

"These survey results reinforce the idea that workplaces, especially healthcare work settings, should discuss personal emergency planning with their employees. These discussions should take place upon hire and conducted annually," states Dr. Gershon. The researchers point out that these findings provide us with the opportunity to enhance healthcare workers’ ability and willingness to respond by addressing those barriers that are amenable to intervention. The healthcare facility can help support both the ability and willingness of their employees though careful planning--for example, arranging for emergency transportation and child and elder care. Adds Dr. Qureshi, "In terms of addressing workers fears, and therefore, their willingness to work, healthcare administrators should talk to their workers about their concerns regarding exposure and contagion, and, importantly, reassure them by describing in detail all of the steps the facility is planning to take to assure their safety."

Stephanie Berger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu
http://www.mailman.hs.columbia.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>