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Impact of the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic on public health workers in the Netherlands.

Vinck, L., Isken, L., Hooiveld, M., Trompenaars, M.C., IJzermans, J., Timen, A. Impact of the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic on public health workers in the Netherlands. Eurosurveillance: 2011, 16(7), pii: 19793.
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A cross-sectional study was undertaken to analyse the impact of the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic on frontline public health workers in the Netherlands and to consider its implications for future pandemics. A structured, self-administered questionnaire was made available online (26 March to 26 May 2010) for frontline public health workers employed by the communicable disease departments of the public health services in the Netherlands (n=302). A total of 166 questionnaires (55%) were completed. The majority of respondents reported an increased workload, perceived as too busy (117 respondents, 70.5%) or extreme (13 respondents, 7.8%). Most respondents were not anxious about becoming infected (only seven were regularly concerned). The overall compliance with the control measures was good. The case definition was strictly applied by 110 of the 166 respondents (66%); 56 of 141 (39.7%) consistently consulted the Preparedness and Response Unit within a centralised assessment system, while 68 of 141 (48.2%) consulted the unit only at the beginning of the pandemic. Of 145 respondents with available data, 128 (88.3%) always used personal protective equipment. Reported adherence to the advice to discuss the various isolation measures with patients and their contacts was between 71% and 98.7%. Our study shows that the surveyed frontline public health workers considered the workload to be high during the first 3.5 months of the pandemic and their level of anxiety about becoming infected was reported to be low. During the pandemic, these workers were able to accommodate what they considered to be an excessive workload, even though initially their assignments were unfamiliar to them.(aut. ref.)