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Examination of Hospital Workers’ Emotional Responses to an Infectious Disease Outbreak: Lessons From the 2015 MERS Co-V Outbreak in South Korea

  • Heejung Son (a1), Wang Jun Lee (a2), Hyun Soo Kim (a3), Kkot Sil Lee (a4) and Myoungsoon You (a5)...


Hospital workers are critical for a successful response to an infectious disease outbreak and for preventing disease transmission to the community. Therefore, hospital crisis management should implement efforts to improve hospital workers’ preparedness in responding to public health emergencies caused by infectious diseases. Traditionally, preparedness and skill of hospital workers have been emphasized, but awareness of the importance of the emotional mindset of hospital workers in dealing with disease outbreaks has only recently increased; therefore, empirical approaches to examining emotional responses of hospital workers has been limited. This study analyzed qualitative data of the 2015 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in South Korea. In particular, negative emotions and stress experienced by hospital workers who treated patients were characterized, as were the events that triggered such experiences. These events were categorized into four themes (eg, Mistake, Missing, Delay Due to Communication Failure). Identifying events that trigger negative emotions in hospital workers has important implications for hospitals’ management guidance in relation to an infectious disease outbreak. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:504-510)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Myoungsoon You, Department of Public Health Science, Graduate School of Public Health & Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Republic of Korea (e-mail:


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