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SAEM: Factors Affect Workers' Desire to Work in Disaster

Workers want assurance that their efforts will be effective and that the workplace will be safe

THURSDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Among health care workers, an important predictor of willingness and ability to report to work in the case of a disaster is an assurance that their efforts will be effective, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Chicago.

Linda Kruus, Ph.D., of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues surveyed 306 health care workers about the factors affecting their willingness and ability to respond in three events: a public riot, an infectious disease outbreak and a regional power outage.

For a public riot, the researchers found that the most important predictive factors for willingness and ability were a safer workplace, greater job effectiveness, importance of working and family support. For an infectious disease outbreak, willingness was associated with lower likelihood of contracting illness and worry about family exposure, and higher confidence in protective equipment availability, anticipated job effectiveness and importance of working, while ability was associated with increased family support, job effectiveness and importance of working.

For a power outage, the investigators found that willingness was associated with greater job effectiveness and importance of working, while ability was associated with increased travel safety, job effectiveness and importance of working.

"Hospital disaster plans should address health care worker perceptions and expectations about their role in disaster response," the authors conclude.

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