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Bioterrorism—A Health Emergency: Do physicians believe there is a threat and are they prepared for it?

Claudia A. Switala, MEd, Joshua Coren, DO, MBA, Frank A. Filipetto, DO, John P. Gaughan, PhD, Carman A. Ciervo, DO

Abstract


Objective: To determine whether bioterrorism training provided increased awareness and understanding of bioterrorism and to assess physicians’ beliefs about the threat of bioterrorism and how it impacts on preparedness.
Design: This is a retrospective review of data obtained from a bioterrorism training grant. Data were obtained from a postevaluation form completed by trainees with an 80 percent return rate. The Institutional Review Board approved this study. Informed consent was not required as data were deidentified and demographic information regarding study subjects was not used.
Setting: The Department of Family Medicine within the University of Medicine and and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, NJ, conducted the training and follow-up study.
Participants: The bioterrorism preparedness training was targeted to physicians, residents, and third- and fourth-year medical students in New Jersey. There were 578 trainees; however, responses to each question were varied.
Outcome measures: Trainees were asked to complete an evaluation form. Specific questions were selected from the form. Frequency statistics were used to describe responses to the questions.
Results: Ninety-four percent of the respondents agreed that the bioterrorism training increased their awareness and/or understanding of bioterrorism; however, only 49 percent believe there is a high probability that a bioterrorism event or other health emergency will occur in the near future in New Jersey, and 42 percent considered themselves prepared to respond as a healthcare professional to a bioterrorism event.
Conclusions: Physicians in New Jersey increased their awareness and understanding of bioterrorism through training. However, concerns remain that a physician’s belief in a low threat of bioterrorism translates into a low need for bioterrorism preparedness training.


Keywords


bioterrorism, preparedness training, emergency preparedness

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2011.0054

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