Healthcare workers’ perceptions of risk and use of coping strategies for emerging respiratory infectious diseases

Added April 9, 2020

Citation: Koh Y, Hegney DG, Drury V. Comprehensive systematic review of healthcare workers’ perceptions of risk and use of coping strategies towards emerging respiratory infectious diseases. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare 2011; 9: 403-19

Free to view: No

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a great strain on healthcare workers. Their risk perceptions may influence their behaviour and their attitudes towards their patients.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research that evaluated healthcare workers’ perceptions of risk of exposure to emerging respiratory infectious diseases and their use of risk-related coping strategies. They did not restrict by type of publication but limited their search to studies published in English between 1997 and 2009. They identified 14 quantitative studies which examined the risk perceptions and behaviour of healthcare workers caring for hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) (9 studies) or a possible pandemic influenza outbreak (5 studies), and 2 qualitative studies.

What was found: Healthcare workers’ risk perceptions can influence their behaviour towards patients with emerging respiratory infectious diseases.

Most healthcare workers accepted the risks as part of their job roles and professional responsibilities.

Institutions and government need to ensure that policies and procedures are communicated and adequate institutional measures (such as personal protective equipment; education and training; and personal support) are implemented to safeguard healthcare workers during and after pandemics.

Organisational strategies were vital in reducing healthcare workers‘ risk perceptions and increasing their personal level of preparedness.

Institutions need to ensure that appropriate infection control safeguards are in place to protect workers and their families.

Institutions should provide healthcare workers with organisational incentives such as compensation payments and special vacations, where appropriate, following their exposure to infected patients.

What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.

What’s uncertain: More research is needed to determine factors that may influence healthcare workers‘ decisions to stay within the workforce and provide care for infected patients, or to resign from the workforce.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the coronavirus (COVID-19) but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the basis of this summary alone. The text can be shared and re-used without charge, citing Evidence Aid as the source and noting the date on which you took the text.