Survey: Sixteen percent of public health workers likely not to report to work if pandemic hits

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In the event of a pandemic flu emergency, about one out of every six public health workers will probably not report to work, according to a new survey.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health surveyed 1,835 public health workers to determine how they would respond in a pandemic flu emergency. The survey took into account a number of factors, primarily the respondent's perception of the threat, the confidence they could fulfill their role and belief in the importance of their work. Those with views that the threat was high their work was important were 31 times more likely to say they would report to work than those who thought the threat was low and who had a low level of confidence, according to the survey. Employee response is a critical part of emergency preparedness planning that is often overlooked, researchers say. The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a pandemic preparedness checklist for long-term care facilities. (McKnight's, 5/1/09)

All told, 16% of workers said they would not come in to work. And while that number may seem discouraging, researchers say it's a marked improvement. A similar 2005 survey found that 40% of public health workers wouldn't respond during a pandemic flu emergency. The survey is published in the July 24 edition of the journal PLoS ONE.
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