• epidemiology;
  • infection control;
  • management;
  • public health nursing;
  • questionnaire survey;
  • stress;
  • workforce issues


Title. A resource-based perspective on retention strategies for nurse epidemiologists

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to evaluate the intent of epidemiologists to remain in their chosen career and identify the variables that contributed to or predicted their intent to stay.

Background.  Recently, emerging new infections, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome or bird flu, have placed significant occupational and psychological stress on epidemiologists, especially in South-East Asia, resulting in a high intent to change their career. In the light of possible staff shortages, retention strategies for epidemiologists have gained importance.

Methods.  A self-administered questionnaire survey and stratified sampling were used to collect data from 351 epidemiologists including nurse epidemiologists in Taiwan in 2005; response rate was 70·6%. Correlation analysis and hierarchical multiple regression analysis were used to examine relationships among occupational stress, psychological stress, human resources and intent to stay in their career.

Results.  Occupational stress, psychological stress and human resources had an impact on epidemiologists’ intent to stay in their career. Results show that the relationship between occupational stress (operation and personal safety hazard) and intent to stay could be influenced by organizational capital, and the relationship between emotional distress and intent to stay could be influenced by a broad spectrum of human resources (organizational, social and human capital).

Conclusion.  The severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic raised worldwide attention and challenged epidemiologists’ intent to stay. Results indicate that human resources play an important role in this issue. Managers should enhance human resources in organizations as much as possible to attenuate epidemiologists’ stress, which may, in turn, strengthen their intent to stay.