Introduction: When countermeasures are taken against an avian influenza (AI) pandemic in a hospital, it is essential to know the potential number of staff who would choose to be absent. The purpose of this study was to clarify how many medical staff would be willing to work during a pandemic, and requirements to secure adequate human resources.
Methods: From September to December 2008, a total of 3,152 questionnaires were sent to five private hospitals and one public hospital, which represent the core hospitals in the regions of Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo Prefectures. Participants consisted of hospital staff including: (1) physicians; (2) nurses; (3) pharmacists; (4) radiological technologists (RTs); (5) physical therapists (PTs); (6) occupational therapists (OTs); (7) clinical laboratory technologists (CLTs); (8) caregivers; (9) office clerks; and (10) others. They were queried about their attitude toward pandemics, including whether they would come to the hospital to work, treat patients, and what kinds of conditions they required in order to work.
Results: A total of 1,975 persons (62.7%) responded. A total of 204 persons (10.6%) would not come to the hospitals during a pandemic, 363 (18.8%) would perform their duties as usual, unconditionally, 504 (26.1%) would come to hospitals but not treat AI patients, and 857 (44.5%) would report to the hospital and treat AI patients with some essential conditions. These essential conditions were: (1) personal protective equipment (PPE) (80.0%); (2) receipt of workmen's compensation (69.3%); (3) receipt of anti-virus medication (58.2%); and (3) receipt of pre-pandemic vaccination (57.8%).
Conclusion: During a pandemic, all types of health professionals would be lacking, not only physicians and nurses. This study indicates that ensuring sufficient medical human resources would be difficult without the provision of adequate safety and compensation measures.