Gauging U.S. Emergency Medical Services Workers' Willingness to Respond to Pandemic Influenza Using a Threat- and Efficacy-Based Assessment Framework Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: Emergency Medical Services workers' willingness to report to duty in an influenza pandemic is essential to healthcare system surge amidst a global threat. Application of Witte's Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM) has shown utility for revealing influences of perceived threat and efficacy on non-EMS public health providers' willingness to respond in an influenza pandemic. We thus propose using an EPPM-informed assessment of EMS workers' perspectives toward fulfilling their influenza pandemic response roles. Methodology/principal findings: We administered an EPPM-informed snapshot survey about attitudes and beliefs toward pandemic influenza response, to a nationally representative, stratified random sample of 1,537 U.S. EMS workers from May-June 2009 (overall response rate: 49%). Of the 586 respondents who met inclusion criteria (currently active EMS providers in primarily EMS response roles), 12% indicated they would not voluntarily report to duty in a pandemic influenza emergency if asked, 7% if required. A majority (52%) indicated their unwillingness to report to work if risk of disease transmission to family existed. Confidence in personal safety at work (OR = 3.3) and a high threat/high efficacy ("concerned and confident") EPPM profile (OR = 4.7) distinguished those who were more likely to voluntarily report to duty. Although 96% of EMS workers indicated that they would probably or definitely report to work if they were guaranteed a pandemic influenza vaccine, only 59% had received an influenza immunization in the preceding 12 months. Conclusions/significance: EMS workers' response willingness gaps pose a substantial challenge to prehospital surge capacity in an influenza pandemic. "Concerned and confident" EMS workers are more than four times as likely to fulfill pandemic influenza response expectations. Confidence in workplace safety is a positively influential modifier of their response willingness. These findings can inform insights into interventions for enhancing EMS workers' willingness to respond in the face of a global infectious disease threat.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010