Tebruegge, Marc, Pantazidou, Aanastasia, Ritz, Nicole, Connell, Tom, Bryant, Penelope, Donath, Susan and Curtis, Nigel
Perception, attitudes and knowledge regarding the 2009 swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus pandemic among health-care workers in Australia
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 46, (11), . (doi:10.1111/j.1440-1754.2010.01820.x). (PMID:20796180).
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Aim: To determine the perceptions, attitudes and knowledge of Australian health-care workers (HCWs) regarding the novel, swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus (S-OIV) outbreak that reached the country in early May 2009.
Methods: Self-administered, anonymous Web-based survey conducted during the early stages of the S-OIV pandemic. Participants comprised hospital- and community-based medical and nursing staff, medical students, allied health professionals, laboratory staff and administrative personnel.
Results: Of the 947 participants surveyed, 59.4% were not convinced that Australia was sufficiently prepared for an influenza pandemic. Only 17.6% of the participants stated they were prepared to work unconditionally during a pandemic; 36.5% stated they would work if they had access to antiviral treatment; 27.9% would if provided with antiviral prophylaxis; and 7.5% would refuse to work. In addition, 37.5% of the participants responded they would refuse or avoid being involved in screening suspected cases. A total of 47.7% admitted to possessing a personal supply of antivirals or having considered this option. Only 48.0% provided a realistic estimate of the mortality associated with an influenza pandemic at a population level. HCWs overestimating the mortality risk and HCWs believing the efficacy of antiviral prophylaxis to be low were significantly less likely to be prepared to work (P= 0.04 and P= 0.0004, respectively).
Conclusions: To ensure adequate staffing during an influenza pandemic, preparedness plans should anticipate significant levels of absenteeism by choice. Interventions aimed at increasing staff retention during a pandemic require further evaluation.
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