• bioterrorism;
  • emergency preparedness;
  • nurses;
  • nurse public health education;
  • rural communities

ABSTRACT Objective: Nurses, particularly public health nurses, play a key role in emergency preparedness and response in rural areas. To prepare rural jurisdictions for unforeseen disastrous events it is imperative to assess the public health emergency readiness and training needs of nurses. The objective of this study was to assess the self-reported terrorism preparedness and training needs of a nurse workforce.

Design and Sample: Cross-sectional prevalence of practicing nurses in regions of North Texas. 3,508 rural nurses practicing in North Texas participated in the study.

Measurements: Data were collected through a mailed survey; analyses included multinominal logistic regression and descriptive statistics.

Results: A total of 941 (27%) nurses completed the survey. The majority of respondents reported limited bioterrorism-related training. Fewer than 10% were confident in their ability to diagnose or treat bioterrorism-related conditions. Although only 30% expressed a willingness to collaborate with state and local authorities during a bioterrorism event, more than 69% indicated interest in future training opportunities. Preferred training modalities included small group workshops with instructor-led training, and Internet-based training.

Conclusions: Licensing agencies, professional organizations, and community constituencies may need to play a stronger role in improving the bioterrorism-related emergency preparedness of rural nurses.