Willingness of health care personnel to work in a disaster: an integrative review of the literature

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2009 Mar;3(1):42-56. doi: 10.1097/DMP.0b013e31818e8934.


Effective hospital surge response in disaster depends largely on an adequate number of personnel to provide care. Studies appearing since 1991 indicate health care personnel may not be willing to work in all disaster situations-and if so, this could degrade surge response. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to determine the state of the evidence concerning the willingness of health care personnel to work in disaster. The aims of this review are to collate and assess the literature concerning willingness of health care personnel to work during a disaster, to identify gaps in the literature as areas for future investigation, and to facilitate evidence-based disaster planning. Twenty-seven studies met inclusion criteria (25 quantitative and 2 qualitative studies). The current evidence indicates there may be certain factors related to willingness to work (or lack of willingness) in disaster including the type of disaster, concern for family, and concerns about personal safety. Barriers to willingness to work have been identified including pet care needs and the lack of personal protective equipment. This review describes the state of an emerging area of science. These findings have significant implications for community and organizational emergency planning and policymaking in an environment defined by limited resources.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Disasters*
  • Humans
  • Workload