60% of healthcare providers feel obligated to work when sick, survey shows

Anuja Vaidya (Twitter) - Print  | 

A majority of healthcare providers felt an obligation to work when they were sick, according to survey results published in Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control.

Researchers conducted a two-stage, cross-sectional survey at Iowa City-based University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 2012-2013. The first survey included one open-ended question about attitudes toward working when sick, and answers to the first survey were used to develop 23 additional closed-ended questions for a second survey.

Participants for the first survey included third-year medical students, first-year residents in internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine, and faculty physicians in the same specialties.

Participants for the second survey included fourth-year medical students, second-year residents in internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine and faculty physicians in the same specialties.

Of the 127 participants who completed the second survey, 60 percent reported they felt obligated to work when sick, and 33 percent felt obligated to work with influenza-like symptoms. Residents (65 percent) and students (35 percent) were more likely to work when sick than faculty physicians (14 percent).

Eighty-three present of participants were motivated to work when sick to avoid creating more work for colleagues. Residents and students were more likely to want to avoid negative repercussions or appear lazy or weak than faculty physicians.

However, 81 percent of participants also recognized the need to avoid spreading infections to patients.

The study authors said being aware of what motivates healthcare providers to come to work sick can be used to design interventions to stop it.

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