Attitudes to living and working in pandemic conditions among emergency prehospital medical care personnel

Kerrianne Watt, Vivienne C. Tippett, Steven G. Raven, Konrad Jamrozik, Michael Coory, Frank Archer, Heath A. Kelly

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Little is known about the risk perceptions and attitudes of healthcare personnel, especially of emergency prehospital medical care personnel, regarding the possibility of an outbreak or epidemic event.Problem: This study was designed to investigate pre-event knowledge and attitudes of a national sample of the emergency prehospital medical care providers in relation to a potential human influenza pandemic, and to determine predictors of these attitudes.Methods: Surveys were distributed to a random, cross-sectional sample of 20% of the Australian emergency prehospital medical care workforce (n = 2,929), stratified by the nine services operating in Australia, as well as by gender and location. The surveys included: (1) demographic information; (2) knowledge of influenza; and (3) attitudes and perceptions related to working during influenza pandemic conditions. Multiple logistic regression models were constructed to identify predictors of pandemic-related risk perceptions.Results: Among the 725 Australian emergency prehospital medical care personnel who responded, 89% were very anxious about working during pandemic conditions, and 85% perceived a high personal risk associated with working in such conditions. In general, respondents demonstrated poor knowledge in relation to avian influenza, influenza generally, and infection transmission methods. Less than 5% of respondents perceived that they had adequate education/training about avian influenza. Logistic regression analyses indicate that, in managing the attitudes and risk perceptions of emergency prehospital medical care staff, particular attention should be directed toward the paid, male workforce (as opposed to volunteers), and on personnel whose relationship partners do not work in the health industry.Conclusions: These results highlight the potentially crucial role of education and training in pandemic preparedness. Organizations that provide emergency prehospital medical care must address this apparent lack of knowledge regarding infection transmission, and procedures for protection and decontamination. Careful management of the perceptions of emergency prehospital medical care personnel during a pandemic is likely to be critical in achieving an effective response to a widespread outbreak of infectious disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • attitudes
  • emergency medical services
  • infection control
  • influenza
  • pandemic
  • prehospital
  • risk perceptions

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