Most health workers may stay away during pandemic

May 14th, 2009 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 14 (IANS) As many as 85 percent of healthcare workers may stay off work if an influenza pandemic struck a country, according to a survey.
The results suggest that levels of absenteeism may be significantly higher than current official estimates and that ‘willingness’, rather than ‘ability’, plays the largest role in healthcare workers’ decisions on whether to go to work or not.

University of Birmingham researchers carried out the survey, in which 1,032 healthcare workers responded to questions about the factors that may influence their decisions whether or not to work during an influenza pandemic.

The research team reported that as pandemic influenza is recognised by the government to be one of the most severe risks, it is essential that health services are able to manage the major demands that will be placed upon them.

Healthcare workers will be at the forefront of the response to a pandemic, and if services are to be provided at sufficient levels, absenteeism from work must be minimised.

Responses suggest that the likelihood of working may differ by job type. While doctors were more likely to say they would attend, nurses and ancillary staff were more likely to say they would stay away.

The survey shows that willingness to work during a pandemic will be strongly impacted by two types of factors. Firstly, issues relating to family and caring responsibilities, said a Birmingham release.

Workers with children or elderly family for whom they are carers would be more likely to be absent from work if influenza illness at home (or the possibility of it) became

a worry. Also, there were issues relating to the work environment itself.

These results were published in the open access BMC Public Health.

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