• Healthcare worker’s attitudes;
  • influenza;
  • pandemic planning

Please cite this paper as: Cowden et al. (2010). Pre-pandemic planning survey of healthcare workers at a tertiary care children’s hospital: ethical and workforce issues. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 4(4), 213–222.

Background  Prior to the development of written policies and procedures for pandemic influenza, worker perceptions of ethical and workforce issues must be identified.

Objective  To determine the relationship between healthcare worker (HCW) reporting willingness to work during a pandemic and perception of job importance, belief that one will be asked to work, and sense of professionalism and to assess HCW’s opinions regarding specific policy issues as well as barriers and motivators to work during a pandemic.

Methods  A survey was conducted in HCWs at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, from February to June 2007. Characteristics of workers reporting willingness to work during a pandemic were compared with those who were unwilling or unsure. Importance of barriers and motivators was compared by gender and willingness to work.

Results Sixty percent of respondents reported willingness to work (overall response rate of 31%). Belief one will be asked to work (OR 4·6, P < 0·0001) and having a high level of professionalism (OR 8·6, P < 0·0001) were associated with reporting willingness to work. Hospital infrastructure support staffs were less likely to report willingness to work during a pandemic than clinical healthcare professionals (OR 0·39, P < 0·001). Concern for personal safety, concern for safety of family, family’s concern for safety, and childcare issues were all important barriers to coming to work.

Conclusions  Educational programs should focus on professional responsibility and the importance of staying home when ill. Targeted programs toward hospital infrastructure support and patient and family support staff stressing the essential nature of these jobs may improve willingness to work.