Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza in Australia: absenteeism and redeployment of emergency medicine and nursing staff

Considine, Julie, Shaban, Ramon Z., Patrick, Jennifer, Holzhauser, Kerri, Aitken, Peter, Clark, Michele, Fielding, Elaine, and FitzGerald, Gerry (2011) Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza in Australia: absenteeism and redeployment of emergency medicine and nursing staff. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 23 (5). pp. 615-623.

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Objective: The aim of the present study was to examine the impact of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza on the Australian emergency nursing and medicine workforce, specifically absenteeism and deployment.

Methods: Data were collected using an online survey of 618 members of the three professional emergency medicine or emergency nursing colleges.

Results: Despite significant increases in emergency demand during the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza, 56.6% of emergency nursing and medicine staff reported absenteeism of at least 1 day and only 8.5% of staff were redeployed. Staff illness with influenza-like illness was reported by 37% of respondents, and 87% of respondents who became ill were not tested for the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza. Of the respondents who became ill, 43% (n= 79) reported missing no days of work and only 8% of respondents (n= 14) reported being absent for more than 5 days. The mean number of days away from work was 3.73 (standard deviation = 3.63). Factors anecdotally associated with staff absenteeism (caregiver responsibilities, concern about personal illness, concern about exposing family members to illness, school closures, risk of quarantine, stress and increased workload) appeared to be of little or no relevance. Redeployment was reported by 8% of respondents and the majority of redeployment was for operational reasons.

Conclusion: Future research related to absenteeism, redeployment during actual pandemic events is urgently needed. Workforce data collection should be an integral part of organizational pandemic planning.

Item ID: 21712
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1742-6723
Keywords: influenza; pandemic; policy; workforce; workforce planning
Date Deposited: 16 May 2012 05:00
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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