A survey of nurses and other health care workers suggests that many would opt to stay home during an avian influenza pandemic, even if they lost their jobs. Among nurses, only 44% said they'd report to work as usual.
Charlene B. Irvin, MD, of St. John Health, Detroit, Mich., surveyed 169 nurses, physicians, and other health care workers regarding their willingness to work during an avian flu pandemic. The average age of those surveyed was 38; 68% were women. Overall responses were as follows:
* 50% of respondents said they'd report to work during a pandemic
* 42% said, "maybe"
* 8% percent said, "no, even if I lose my job."
More physicians (73%) said they'd report to work than nurses (44%) and other staff (33%). More men than women said they'd report to work (66% versus 42%).
For those who responded "maybe," the biggest factor was their level of confidence that the hospital would protect their health.
Dr. Irvin says she was surprised that only 33% of ancillary personnel-who have far less exposure to infection than physicians and nurses-would work during a pandemic. She says the government and medical community may not be doing a good job of educating health care workers about the measures that would keep them safe and how successful these measures can be. During the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in China, for example, the infection rate among health care personnel plummeted when they observed strict infection control measures.