Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

James Holsinger, Jr., MD, PhD

Committee Member

Sabrina Brown, DrPH

Committee Member

Sarah Wackerbarth, PhD


In the events leading up to, during, and following a catastrophic event, healthcare workers play a critical role in the outcome of these events. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that healthcare workers are able and willing to report to work. Prior to September, 2001 there had been three willingness to report studies published in the literature. Post September, 2001 and up until 2011 there was a renewed interest in the topic which led to the publishing of twenty plus papers on the topic. The current literature has examined willingness to report thoroughly and definitively; however, there is a clear gap when it comes to rural healthcare workers and rural based healthcare systems. The most recent research has clearly been skewed towards large metropolitan areas, foreign countries, and large urban based healthcare systems. The purpose of this research was to examine how rural healthcare workers respond to catastrophic events. We conducted a cross-sectional study on a convenience sample of rural healthcare workers. Study participants completed an anonymous survey which asked various questions regarding their willingness and ability to report to work during a catastrophic event. The final sample size consisted of 35 rural healthcare workers from a variety of healthcare professions. In previous willingness to report studies, factors such as transportation, child/pet care, and fear were the limiting factors in whether or not an employee reports to work. Our results for the ability to report to work are similar to previous studies. Childcare (48%) and transportation (30%) were the two biggest barriers to the ability to report to work. Fear for family (67%) and fear for self (54%) are the two biggest barriers to the willingness to report work. Our findings may help healthcare facilities better prepare for catastrophic situations. Ideally healthcare facilities will be able to plan for the factors that limit willingness and ability to work. Facilities in these geographical areas can develop plans and programs that alleviate the factors that prohibit reporting to work, such as childcare and transportation, and ensure full staffing when it is needed the most.

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