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Current literature suggests that a large percentage of the health workforce may be unwilling to work during a disaster. The willingness of pharmacists to work during a disaster is under-researched internationally and non-existent in Australia.
To determine if Australian pharmacists are willing to work in a disaster and the factors that affect the willingness to work.
A 13-question survey was developed from the current literature and released nationally through professional organizations and social media.
Sixty Australian pharmacists completed the survey. Most participants believed their pharmacy was an essential service for their community. Pharmacists reported they would be likely to report to work during a pandemic or biological disaster (73%) or natural disaster (78%). The two major factors likely to prevent pharmacists from working in a disaster are family and safety concerns. Pharmacists perceived that their duty of care to their patients would make them likely to work during a disaster. Most pharmacists noted they would work even if they were expected to work outside their scope of practice, or if their place of work lacked electricity or was damaged.
Depending on the disaster, up to 27% of the pharmacy workforce may be unwilling to work in a disaster. Family and safety concerns were the primary barriers to pharmacists reporting to work in the aftermath of a disaster. Providing guidelines on how pharmacists can prepare their family for a disaster may assist in ensuring pharmacists are willing to work. The pharmacists surveyed demonstrated a strong commitment to their duty of care with the majority stating they would be likely to work in austere work environments. This research raises questions of the safety of pharmacists working outside their scope and in austere environments and whether it is safe for them, their patients, and the broader community.
Cyclones are expected to increase in frequency and intensity, significantly impacting communities and healthcare services. During these times, those with chronic diseases such as opioid dependence are at an increased risk of disease exacerbation due to treatment regimen interruptions. Disruptions to the continuity of the opioid replacement therapy (ORT) service can be detrimental to both clients and the community which can potentially lead to relapse, withdrawal, and risky behaviors.
To explore the impacts of cyclones on opioid treatment programs within community and hospital pharmacies in Queensland.
Qualitative research methods were used in this study with two methods of data analysis employed: the text analytics software, Leximancer®, and manual coding. Interviews were conducted with five hospital and five community pharmacists and four Queensland opioid treatment program (QOTP) employees. Participants worked in Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville, and Yeppoon in a community impacted by a cyclone and involved with ORT supply.
The themes developed in the manual coding were “impact on essential services,” “human experience,” “healthcare infrastructure,” “preparedness,” and “interprofessional networks.” These themes were aligned with those identified in the Leximancer® analysis. The community pharmacists focused on client stability, whereas, the hospital pharmacists and QOTP employees focused on the need for disaster plans to be implemented.
The greatest concern for participants was maintaining the stability of their clients. Communication amongst the dosing sites and ORT stakeholders was most concerning. This led to a lack of dosing information in a timely manner with pharmacists being hesitant to provide doses and takeaways due to legislative restrictions. A review of coordinated efforts and the legislative constraints is recommended to ensure continuity of ORT supply during cyclones.