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Will the NHS continue to function in an influenza pandemic? A survey of healthcare workers in the West Midlands, UK

Will the NHS continue to function in an influenza pandemic? A survey of healthcare workers in the West Midlands, UK
Will the NHS continue to function in an influenza pandemic? A survey of healthcare workers in the West Midlands, UK
Background: if UK healthcare services are to respond effectively to pandemic influenza, levels of absenteeism amongst healthcare workers (HCWs) must be minimised. Current estimates of the likelihood that HCWs will continue to attend work during a pandemic are subject to scientific and predictive uncertainty, yet an informed evidence base is needed if contingency plans addressing the issues of HCW absenteeism are to be prepared.

Methods: this paper reports the findings of a self-completed survey of randomly selected HCWs across three purposively sampled healthcare trusts in the West Midlands. The survey aimed to identify the factors positively or negatively associated with willingness to work during an influenza pandemic, and to evaluate the acceptability of potential interventions or changes to working practice to promote the continued presence at work of those otherwise unwilling or unable to attend. 'Likelihood' and 'persuadability' scores were calculated for each respondent according to indications of whether or not they were likely to work under different circumstances. Binary logistic regression was used to compute bivariate and multivariate odds ratios to evaluate the association of demographic variables and other respondent characteristics with the self-described likelihood of reporting to work.

Results: the survey response rate was 34.4% (n = 1032). Results suggest absenteeism may be as high as 85% at any point during a pandemic, with potential absence particularly concentrated amongst nursing and ancillary workers (OR 0.3; 95% CI 0.1 to 0.7 and 0.5; 95% CI 0.2 to 0.9 respectively).

Conclusion: levels of absenteeism amongst HCWs may be considerably higher than official estimates, with potential absence concentrated amongst certain groups of employees. Although interventions designed to minimise absenteeism should target HCWs with a low stated likelihood of working, members of these groups may also be the least receptive to such interventions. Changes to working conditions which reduce barriers to the ability to work may not address barriers linked to willingness to work, and may fail to overcome HCWs' reluctance to work in the face of what may still be deemed unacceptable risk to self and/or family
1471-2458
Damery, Sarah
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Wilson, Sue
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Draper, Heather
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Gratus, Christine
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Greenfield, Sheila
a983610e-aa36-442b-9f11-9af5721d7542
Ives, Jonathan
1893eb4c-decb-463a-a45c-ee05183db6df
Parry, Jayne
717495d2-0ced-46ec-8a28-7cb18fd586f5
Petts, Judith
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Sorell, Tom
a66ce3fd-a193-4cc9-96a6-828cd32ba448
Damery, Sarah
e9962160-c2ac-4410-95d9-48ca56e87e46
Wilson, Sue
6fd6c8e9-2e06-4eff-a081-feecf4d173ae
Draper, Heather
d3efb1a7-0556-4685-8c4b-482a29de0f96
Gratus, Christine
8abfc960-83f9-4a71-87df-68aa2ee91b17
Greenfield, Sheila
a983610e-aa36-442b-9f11-9af5721d7542
Ives, Jonathan
1893eb4c-decb-463a-a45c-ee05183db6df
Parry, Jayne
717495d2-0ced-46ec-8a28-7cb18fd586f5
Petts, Judith
c2b0c58d-c78d-4f2e-9bec-fa4e23d72ef6
Sorell, Tom
a66ce3fd-a193-4cc9-96a6-828cd32ba448

Damery, Sarah, Wilson, Sue, Draper, Heather, Gratus, Christine, Greenfield, Sheila, Ives, Jonathan, Parry, Jayne, Petts, Judith and Sorell, Tom (2009) Will the NHS continue to function in an influenza pandemic? A survey of healthcare workers in the West Midlands, UK. BMC Public Health, 9 (1). (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-142). (PMID:19442272)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: if UK healthcare services are to respond effectively to pandemic influenza, levels of absenteeism amongst healthcare workers (HCWs) must be minimised. Current estimates of the likelihood that HCWs will continue to attend work during a pandemic are subject to scientific and predictive uncertainty, yet an informed evidence base is needed if contingency plans addressing the issues of HCW absenteeism are to be prepared.

Methods: this paper reports the findings of a self-completed survey of randomly selected HCWs across three purposively sampled healthcare trusts in the West Midlands. The survey aimed to identify the factors positively or negatively associated with willingness to work during an influenza pandemic, and to evaluate the acceptability of potential interventions or changes to working practice to promote the continued presence at work of those otherwise unwilling or unable to attend. 'Likelihood' and 'persuadability' scores were calculated for each respondent according to indications of whether or not they were likely to work under different circumstances. Binary logistic regression was used to compute bivariate and multivariate odds ratios to evaluate the association of demographic variables and other respondent characteristics with the self-described likelihood of reporting to work.

Results: the survey response rate was 34.4% (n = 1032). Results suggest absenteeism may be as high as 85% at any point during a pandemic, with potential absence particularly concentrated amongst nursing and ancillary workers (OR 0.3; 95% CI 0.1 to 0.7 and 0.5; 95% CI 0.2 to 0.9 respectively).

Conclusion: levels of absenteeism amongst HCWs may be considerably higher than official estimates, with potential absence concentrated amongst certain groups of employees. Although interventions designed to minimise absenteeism should target HCWs with a low stated likelihood of working, members of these groups may also be the least receptive to such interventions. Changes to working conditions which reduce barriers to the ability to work may not address barriers linked to willingness to work, and may fail to overcome HCWs' reluctance to work in the face of what may still be deemed unacceptable risk to self and/or family

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Published date: May 2009

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 174721
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/174721
ISSN: 1471-2458
PURE UUID: f6b6105f-3042-4c16-8b07-66f9379150e6

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Date deposited: 16 Feb 2011 10:20
Last modified: 25 Nov 2019 21:16

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Contributors

Author: Sarah Damery
Author: Sue Wilson
Author: Heather Draper
Author: Christine Gratus
Author: Sheila Greenfield
Author: Jonathan Ives
Author: Jayne Parry
Author: Judith Petts
Author: Tom Sorell

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