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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 98, Issue 5, pp 358–363 | Cite as

Are We Ready? Evidence of Support Mechanisms for Canadian Health Care Workers in Multi-jurisdictional Emergency Planning

  • Tracey L. O’sullivan
  • Carol A. AmaratungaEmail author
  • Jill Hardt
  • Darcie Dow
  • Karen P. Phillips
  • Wayne Corneil
Article
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

Background

Federal, provincial and municipal leaders in Canada have adopted a culture of preparedness with the development and update of emergency plans in anticipation of different types of disasters. As evident during the 2003 global outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), it is important to provide support for health care workers (HCWs) who are vulnerable during infectious outbreak scenarios. Here we focus on the identification and evaluation of existing support mechanisms incorporated within emergency plans across various jurisdictional levels.

Methods

Qualitative content analysis of 12 emergency plans from national, provincial and municipal levels were conducted using NVIVOTM software. The plans were scanned and coded according to 1) informational, 2) instrumental, and 3) emotional support mechanisms for HCWs and other first responders.

Results

Emergency plans were comprised of a predominance of informational and instrumental supports, yet few emotional or social support mechanisms. All the plans lacked gender-based analysis of how infectious disease outbreaks impact male and female HCWs differently. Acknowledgement of the need for emotional supports was evident at higher jurisdictional levels, but recommended for implementation locally.

Conclusions

While support mechanisms for HCWs are included in this sample of emergency plans, content analysis revealed few emotional or social supports planned for critical personnel; particularly for those who will be required to work in extremely stressful conditions under significant personal risk. The implications of transferring responsibilities for support to local and institutional jurisdictions are discussed.

MeSH terms

Communicable diseases occupational health public health health personnel health services administration disease outbreaks health policy 

Résumé

Contexte

Les dirigeants fédéraux, provinciaux et municipaux du Canada ont adopté une culture de préparation à diverses catastrophes en élaborant et en actualisant des plans d’urgence. Comme on l’a constaté en 2003 pendant la flambée mondiale de syndrome respiratoire aigu sévère (SRAS), il est important d’offrir de l’aide aux travailleurs de la santé qui seraient vulnérables en cas d’épidémie. Le présent article porte sur le repérage et l’évaluation des mécanismes de soutien déjà intégrés dans les plans d’urgence aux trois ordres de gouvernement.

Méthode

Nous avons procédé à l’analyse qualitative du contenu de 12 plans d’urgence nationaux, provinciaux et municipaux à l’aide du logiciel NVIVOMD. Les plans ont été numérisés par balayage et codés en fonction de leurs mécanismes de soutien 1) informationnel, 2) instrumental et 3) affectif aux travailleurs de la santé et autres secouristes opérationnels.

Résultats

Les plans d’urgence comprenaient surtout des mécanismes de soutien informationnel et instrumental, mais peu de mécanismes de soutien affectif ou social. Aucun plan ne comportait d’analyse sexospécifique de l’incidence des flambées de maladies infectieuses sur le personnel masculin et féminin. Le besoin de mesures de soutien affectif était pris en compte par les administrations fédérale et provinciales, mais on en recommandait l’instauration à l’échelle locale.

Conclusion

Des mécanismes de soutien des travailleurs de la santé figurent dans l’échantillon de plans d’urgence étudié, mais l’analyse de leur contenu montre que l’on ne prévoit pas assez de mesures de soutien affectif ou social pour le personnel essentiel, particulièrement les employés qui devront travailler dans des situations extrêmement tendues et prendre des risques considérables pour leur propre santé. Nous présentons aussi les conséquences d’un transfert des responsabilités de soutien aux administrations municipales et à celles des établissements.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracey L. O’sullivan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carol A. Amaratunga
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jill Hardt
    • 1
  • Darcie Dow
    • 1
  • Karen P. Phillips
    • 1
    • 4
  • Wayne Corneil
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Women’s Health Research Unit, Institute of Population HealthUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Health Sciences Program, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of OttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OttawaCanada
  4. 4.Gap Santé, Institute of Population HealthUniversity of OttawaCanada

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