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Emergency planning and preparedness in general practice

Kelly A. Shaw, MBBS, MPH, PhD, Tania Winzenberg, MBBS, MMedSc(ClinEpi), PhD


Objective: The aims of this study were to (1) assess general practitioners’ (primary care doctors) perceptions of their role in responding to emergencies, (2) identify barriers to their involvement in emergency management, (3) measure their willingness to volunteer in an emergency, and (4) determine their level of skills and training in emergency management.
Design of Study: Qualitative focus group study and quantitative cross-sectional survey of general practitioners.
Setting: General practices in Tasmania, an island state of Australia.
Participants: All 541 general practitioners in Tasmania.
Methods: Focus groups were conducted to assess general practitioners perceived roles in an emergency and issues relevant to them undertaking these roles. These data were used to design a quantitative crosssectional survey that was administered to all Tasmanian general practitioners to assess their willingness to participate in emergency management and to measure their skills base and training needs.
Results: The response rate to the survey was 100 percent. The survey found that 42 percent of respondents were willing to volunteer their services in an emergency. Of those, 46 percent had emergency management training and/or skills and/or experience. Focus group participants felt that general practice resources, including nondoctor staff, practice infrastructure, and equipment, could make a valuable contribution to emergency management.
Conclusions: General practitioners are willing to participate in management of emergencies.A significant number have emergency management training and experience. However, appropriate systems and supports are required to facilitate their involvement.


emergency management, general practice, general practitioner, pandemic influenza

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