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Anesthesiologists and Disaster Medicine: A Needs Assessment for Education and Training and Reported Willingness to Respond

Hayanga, Heather K. MD, MPH*; Barnett, Daniel J. MD, MPH; Shallow, Natasha R. MD, MBA; Roberts, Michael MD§; Thompson, Carol B. MS, MBA; Bentov, Itay MD, PhD; Demiralp, Gozde MD§; Winters, Bradford D. MD#; Schwengel, Deborah A. MD#

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000002002
Medical Education: Original Clinical Research Report

BACKGROUND: Anesthesiologists provide comprehensive health care across the emergency department, operating room, and intensive care unit. To date, anesthesiologists’ perspectives regarding disaster medicine and public health preparedness have not been described.

METHODS: Anesthesiologists’ thoughts and attitudes were assessed via a Web-based survey at 3 major academic institutions. Frequencies, percentages, and odds ratios (ORs) were used to assess self-reported perceptions of knowledge and skills, as well as attitudes and beliefs regarding education and training, employee development, professional obligation, safety, psychological readiness, efficacy, personal preparedness, and willingness to respond (WTR). Three representative disaster scenarios (natural disaster [ND], radiological event [RE], and pandemic influenza [PI]) were investigated. Results are reported as percent or OR (95% confidence interval).

RESULTS: Participants included 175 anesthesiology attendings (attendings) and 95 anesthesiology residents (residents) representing a 47% and 51% response rate, respectively. A minority of attendings indicated that their hospital provides adequate pre-event preparation and training (31% [23–38] ND, 14% [9–21] RE, and 40% [31–49] PI). Few residents felt that their residency program provided them with adequate preparation and training (22% [14–33] ND, 16% [8–27] RE, and 17% [9–29] PI). Greater than 85% of attendings (89% [84–94] ND, 88% [81–92] RE, and 87% [80–92] PI) and 70% of residents (81% [71–89] ND, 71% [58–81] RE, and 82% [70–90] PI) believe that their hospital or residency program, respectively, should provide them with preparation and training. Approximately one-half of attendings and residents are confident that they would be safe at work during response to a ND or PI (55% [47–64] and 58% [49–67] of attendings; 59% [48–70] and 48% [35–61] of residents, respectively), whereas approximately one-third responded the same regarding a RE (31% [24–40] of attendings and 28% [18–41] of residents). Fewer than 40% of attendings (34% [26–43]) and residents (38% [27–51]) designated who would take care of their family obligations in the event they were called into work during a disaster. Regardless of severity, 79% (71–85) of attendings and 73% (62–82) of residents indicated WTR to a ND, whereas 81% (73–87) of attendings and 70% (58–81) of residents indicated WTR to PI. Fewer were willing to respond to a RE (63% [55–71] of attendings and 52% [39–64] of residents). In adjusted logistic regression analyses, those anesthesiologists who reported knowing one’s role in response to a ND (OR, 15.8 [4.5–55.3]) or feeling psychologically prepared to respond to a ND (OR, 6.9 [2.5–19.0]) were found to be more willing to respond. Similar results were found for RE and PI constructs. Both attendings and residents were willing to respond in whatever capacity needed, not specifically to provide anesthesia.

CONCLUSIONS: Few anesthesiologists reported receiving sufficient education and training in disaster medicine and public health preparedness. Providing education and training and enhancing related employee services may further bolster WTR and help to build a more capable and effective medical workforce for disaster response.

From the *Division of Cardiac Anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; Independent Contractor at Natasha Shallow MD SC, Brookfield, Wisconsin; §Department of Anesthesiology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Biostatistics Center, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, Washington; and #Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland.

Accepted for publication January 17, 2017.

Funding: Support in part for the statistical analysis from the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the National Institutes of Health through Grant Number 1UL1TR001079.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s website.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Heather K. Hayanga, MD, MPH, UPMC Presbyterian, 200 Lothrop St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Address e-mail to

© 2017 International Anesthesia Research Society
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