Local preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks: A qualitative exploration of willingness and ability to respond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As ecologic, social, and economic conditions continue to facilitate the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases, local health department workers' willingness to respond will remain vital to the United States' ability to recognize and respond to new and emerging disease threats. As demonstrated by heavy occupational morbidity and mortality associated with the 2014 Ebola outbreak, infectious disease response can pose serious risks to the health workforce and presents many ethical and logistical challenges. To explore willingness to respond to an infectious disease outbreak among local health departments - the hub of the public health emergency preparedness system - we conducted focus groups with 46 local health department staff attending 2 national conferences. We examined perspectives from our participants on how local health department employees learn about and articulate their professional commitment to the department, the ways in which local health department leaders support local health department employees in responding to an outbreak, and how local health department staff articulate their responsibilities to their families. We conclude with a proposal for how a web of ethical commitments likely influences willingness to respond. These commitments and their relationship to willingness to respond should be explored further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-319
Number of pages9
JournalHealth security
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

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Aptitude
infectious disease
contagious disease
Disease Outbreaks
Health
ability
health
Occupational Health
Civil Defense
commitment
Health Manpower
Infectious Disease Transmission
Social Conditions
Focus Groups
employee
Personnel
staff
Public Health
Economics
Morbidity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this

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abstract = "As ecologic, social, and economic conditions continue to facilitate the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases, local health department workers' willingness to respond will remain vital to the United States' ability to recognize and respond to new and emerging disease threats. As demonstrated by heavy occupational morbidity and mortality associated with the 2014 Ebola outbreak, infectious disease response can pose serious risks to the health workforce and presents many ethical and logistical challenges. To explore willingness to respond to an infectious disease outbreak among local health departments - the hub of the public health emergency preparedness system - we conducted focus groups with 46 local health department staff attending 2 national conferences. We examined perspectives from our participants on how local health department employees learn about and articulate their professional commitment to the department, the ways in which local health department leaders support local health department employees in responding to an outbreak, and how local health department staff articulate their responsibilities to their families. We conclude with a proposal for how a web of ethical commitments likely influences willingness to respond. These commitments and their relationship to willingness to respond should be explored further.",
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