Introduction: In order to prepare for pandemics, it is important to assess the likelihood that hospital personnel would report to work and to identify the issues that may affect this decision.
Objective: To survey hospital personnel regarding their attendance at work in the hypothetical event of avian influenza pandemic, and what factors might influence this decision.
Methods: A voluntary, confidential, institutional review board-approved survey was offered to a convenience sample of hospital workers regarding their willingness to report to work and what issues would be important in making this decision. Surveys not returned and individuals declining to participate were recorded.
Results: Of 187 surveys offered, 169 were completed (90% response rate): 34% were doctors, 33% were nurses, and 33% were clerical and other associates (other). The average age of the participants was 38 years, and 32% were males. Participants were asked: "In the event of an avian pandemic, and patients were being treated at this hospital, would you report to work as usual?". Of those who responded to the survey, 50% reported "yes", 42% reported "maybe", and 8% reported "no". Doctors were more likely than nurses or others to respond "yes" (73%), as were males (66%). For the "maybe" responders, the most important factor (83%) was: "How confident I am that the hospital can protect me". For 19% of the "maybe" responders, financial incentives would not make a difference for them to work, even up to triple pay.
Conclusions: Personnel absenteeism during a pandemic due to fear of contracting an illness may result in a significant personnel shortage. Ensuring worker confidence in adequate personal protection may be more important than financial incentives.