Willingness of health care personnel to work in a disaster: an integrative review of the literature

Added May 5, 2014

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There are many gaps in the evidence around the willingness of health care personnel to work during a disaster, e.g. influence of demographics, knowledge and competency of staff.  However, some evidence exist that there is a willingness to work that can be manipulated or influenced by the organisation or by government leadership.

This review of 27 studies (since 1991) found that there will be disaster situations in which health care personnel are not willing to work, which will affect response capacity during a disaster. There is evidence that organisations can take action to improve the willingness to work and that this can be manipulated and influenced by hospital or government leadership.  There is evidence that respondents would be willing to work if they were provided with adequate protective gear and information, transportation, protection at their workplace and of their loved ones. More research is needed around the influence of education, disaster preparedness training, knowledge and competency on willingness to work. There are also gaps around the effect of demographics (age, race, occupation, type of employment, years of experience) on the willingness to work and the ethical and legal implications of not working in a disaster. Most studies were undertaken in the United States, but some exist from Israel, Canada and Australia.