On the front lines: family physicians' preparedness for bioterrorism

Journal Name: 
J Fam Pract
OBJECTIVE: The events of September 11, 2001, and the nation's recent experience with anthrax assaults made bioterrorism preparedness a national priority. Because primary care physicians are among the sentinel responders to bioterrorist attacks, we sought to determine family physicians' beliefs about their preparedness for such an attack. STUDY DESIGN: In October 2001 we conducted a national survey of 976 family physicians randomly selected from the American Academy of Family Physicians' active membership directory. POPULATION: 614 (63%) family physicians responded to the survey. OUTCOMES MEASURED: Physicians' self-reported ability to "know what to do as a doctor in the event of a suspected bioterrorist attack, recognize signs and symptoms of an illness due to bioterrorism, and know where to call to report a suspected bioterrorist attack." RESULTS: Ninety-five percent of physicians agreed that a bioterrorist attack is a real threat within the United States. However, only 27% of family physicians believed that the US health care system could respond effectively to a bioterrorist attack; fewer (17%) thought that their local medical communities could respond effectively. Twenty-six percent of physicians reported that they would know what to do as a doctor in the event of a bioterrorist attack. Only 18% had previous training in bioterrorism preparedness. In a multivariate analysis, physicians reported that preparedness for a bioterrorist attack was significantly associated with previous bioterrorism preparedness training (OR 3.9 [95% CI 2.4-6.3]) and knowing how to obtain information in the event of a bioterrorist attack (OR 6.4 [95% CI 3.9-10.6]). CONCLUSIONS: Only one quarter of family physicians felt prepared to respond to a bioterrorist event. However, training in bioterrorism preparedness was significantly associated with physicians' perceived ability to respond effectively to an attack. Primary care physicians need more training in bioterrorism preparedness and easy access to public health and medical information in the event of a bioterrorist attack
AAFP Net, ACCESS, Adult, analysis, beliefs, Bioterrorism, community, Disaster Planning, Disease Outbreaks, evaluation, Evaluation Studies, Family, Family Practice, Female, Health, health care, Human, information, Male, medical, Middle Aged, Multivariate Analysis, Physicians, population, prevention & control, primary care, Primary Health Care, Public Health, Research, Respond, Support,U.S.Gov't,P.H.S., survey, system, United States