Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

Original Research

Factors Associated with Willingness to Respond to a Disaster: A Study of Healthcare Workers in a Tertiary Setting

Rita V. Burkea1, Catherine J. Goodhuea1, Nikunj K. Chokshia1 and Jeffrey S. Uppermana1a2

a1 Department of Pediatric Surgery, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California USA

a2 Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California USA


Introduction: Due to recent disasters, disaster planners increasingly are focusing on healthcare worker preparedness and response in the event of a disaster. In this study, factors associated with pediatric healthcare workers’ willingness to respond are identified.

Hypothesis: It was hypothesized that personal factors may affect a pediatric healthcare worker’s willingness to respond to work in the event of a disaster.

Methods: Employees of a tertiary, pediatric care hospital in Los Angeles were asked to complete a brief, 24-question online survey to determine their willingness to respond in the event of a disaster. Information on demographics, employment, disaster-related training, personal preparedness, and necessary resources was collected. A logistic regression model was performed to derive adjusted odds ratios (OR) and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).

Results: Eight hundred seventy-seven pediatric healthcare employees completed the survey (22% response rate). Almost 50% (n = 318) expressed willingness to respond in the event of a disaster. Men were more likely to be willing to respond to a disaster than were women (OR = 2.4; 95%CI = 1.6–3.6), and single/divorced/widowed employees were more willing to respond than married or partnered employees (OR = 1.5; 95%CI = 1.1–2.1). An inverse relationship was observed between number of dependents and willingness to respond (OR = 0.45; 95%CI = 0.25–0.80, ≥3 dependents compared to 0). An inverse dose response relationship between commuting distance and number of necessary resources (ptrend = 0.0485 and 0.0001, respectively) was observed. There was no association between previous disaster experience, disaster training, or personal preparedness and willingness to respond.

Conclusions: Number of dependents and resources were major factors in willingness to respond. Healthcare facilities must clearly communicate their disaster plans as well as any provisions they may make for their employees’ families in order to improve willingness among hospital employees.

(Received February 09 2010)

(Accepted June 29 2010)

(Revised November 22 2010)


c1 Correspondence: Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD Associate Professor of Surgery Pediatric Surgery Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Keck School of Medicine University of Southern California 4650 Sunset Boulevard Mailstop #72 Los Angeles, California 90027 USA E-mail:


Burke RV, Goodhue CJ, Chokshi NK, Upperman JS: Factors associated with willingness to respond to a disaster: A study of healthcare workers in a tertiary setting. Prehosp Disaster Med 2011;26(4):1–7.