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Research Gaps in Protecting Healthcare Workers From SARS and Other Respiratory Pathogens: An Interdisciplinary, Multi-Stakeholder, Evidence-Based Approach

Yassi, Annalee MD, MSc, FRCPC; Moore, David MDCM, MHSc, FRCPC; FitzGerald, J Mark MD, FRCPC; Bigelow, Philip PhD, CIH, ROH; Hon, Chun-Yip MSc(A), CRSP, CIH; Bryce, Elizabeth MD, FRCPC; other members of The BC Interdisciplinary Respiratory Protection Study Group

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: January 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 1 - pp 41-50
Original Articles

Objective: To identify priorities for further research in protecting healthcare workers (HCWs) from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and other respiratory pathogens by summarizing the basic science of infectious bioaerosols and the efficacy of facial protective equipment; the organizational, environmental, and individual factors that influence the success of infection control and occupational health programs; and factors identified by HCWs as important.

Method: An extensive literature review was conducted and 15 focus groups held, mostly with frontline HCWs in Toronto. Critical gaps in knowledge were identified and prioritized.

Results: Highest priority was given to organizational factors that create a climate of safety. Other priority areas included understanding aerosolization risks and practical measures to control bioaerosols at the source.

Conclusions: Further research is warranted to improve safety climate in health care and, specifically, to provide greater protection against respiratory pathogens.

From the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC (Drs. Yassi, Moore, Bigelow, Mr Hon); the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia (Dr. Yassi); the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation, Vancouver General Hospital (Dr. FitzGerald); the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University; (Dr. Bigelow); and the Division of Medical Microbiology and Infection Control, Vancouver General Hospital (Dr. Bryce).

Address correspondence to: Annalee Yassi, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC, #301- 1665 W. Broadway, Vancouver BC, Canada V6H 3X5; E-mail: annalee@ohsah.bc.ca.

©2005The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine