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Barriers to At-Home-Preparedness in Public Health Employees: Implications for Disaster Preparedness Training

Blessman, James MD, MPH; Skupski, James MD, MPH; Jamil, Mada MD, MPH; Jamil, Hikmet MD, MS, PhD, FFOM.I; Bassett, David BSc, PhD; Wabeke, Roger MSc, MScChE, CIH; Arnetz, Bengt MD, PhD, MPH, MScEpi

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2007 - Volume 49 - Issue 3 - p 318-326
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31803225c7
Original Articles

Objectives: To assess “at-home” preparedness and barriers to preparedness in a cohort of public health employees.

Method: Conducted a cross-sectional survey involving 100 employees attending emergency preparedness training that emphasized incident command training and included a segment on “at-home” preparedness.

Results: Fifteen percent of participants were rated as “better prepared,” and only 8% of participants would be considered “most prepared.” There was no relationship between the concern for bioterrorism and other disasters and preparedness. The principal barrier involved challenges in getting the task done versus lack of desire or knowledge.

Conclusions: There is great potential for distraction of public health workers during an emergent event if they are not prepared at home and have concern for family members. At-home preparedness training efforts that emphasize what should be done and why are likely to have limited impact on changing behavior. Strategies that ensure that small steps are taken are likely to be more successful.

Wayne State University, Department of Family and Community Health Sciences, Detroit, MI; Business Health Associates, Livonia, MI.

Address correspondence to: James E. Blessman, MD, MPH, 2 Woodward Avenue, CAYMC 611, Detroit, Michigan, 48226; E-mail:

©2007The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine